Chermoula, a traditional North African spice paste is a key player in this flavoursome Moroccan tagine, along with preserved lemons, which add a salty and acidic kick.






Skill level

Average: 3.6 (6 votes)


  • 1.2 kg whole chicken
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) peanut oil
  • ½ tsp saffron threads
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 onions, halved, finely sliced
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ½ bunch coriander, chopped
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled, cut into wedges
  • 150 g green olives
  • 6 preserved lemon quarters (see Note), flesh discarded
  • chopped coriander leaves, hard-boiled egg quarters, and couscous, to serve



  • 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp ground sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • ½ tsp saffron threads
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 preserved lemon quarters (see Note), flesh discarded, thinly sliced
  • 125 ml (½ cup) olive oil
  • ½ lemon, juiced

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time 30 minutes
Marinating time overnight

To make chermoula, place all ingredients in a food processor and process to a coarse paste. Place in a sterilised container (see Note) and set aside for 30 minutes. Makes about 3 cups, leftover chermoula will keep refrigerated for up to a week.

Rinse chicken under cold, running water and pat dry with paper towel. Place chicken in a bowl or container, rub all over with 1 cup chermoula, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 180°C. In a large, heavy-based casserole pan with a lid, heat peanut oil over medium-high heat, then add chicken and cook, turning occasionally, for 6 minutes or until golden. Remove chicken and transfer to a plate. Add saffron, cumin, ginger, garlic, onion, cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of pepper and remaining chermoula to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes or until onion is tender. Add tomato, parsley, coriander, potatoes and 750 ml (3 cups) water and bring to the boil. Remove from heat.

Return chicken to pan, breast-side up, and cover with a lid. Place in oven and cook for 45 minutes or until chicken is almost cooked through. Remove lid and cook for a further 15 minutes or until sauce has thickened and chicken is golden and cooked through.

Remove chicken and place on a serving dish with olives and preserved lemon. Cover with sauce and potatoes, then top with coriander and egg. Serve with couscous.


• Preserved lemons are lemons that have been salt-preserved. They are from delis, greengrocers and specialist food shops.
• It is essential to sterilise jars before filling them to prevent bacteria from forming. You can reuse any glass jar as long as the lid seals well. To sterilise jars, bottles and metal spoons in the oven, preheat oven to 120°C. Wash items in soapy water, rinse, then dry. Place equipment (including non-plastic lids) on an oven tray and place in oven for 20 minutes. Remove and fill jars while still hot. To sterilise jars, bottles, containers and metal spoons in the dishwaters, wash on the hottest cycle. Dry, and fill jars, bottles and containers while still hot.



Photography Tom Donald.


As seen in Feast magazine, October 2014, Issue 36.