Chicken, Preserved Lemon and Caper Tagine

Persian New Year seems like a good day to share this delicious recipe, seeing as it is from the beautiful Persiana. I made this recipe for my family on Mother’s Day this year. It went down a storm. I couldn’t find whole preserved lemons anywhere so opted for a jar of preserved lemon paste, which worked beautifully. I am going to make some preserved lemons of my own but they take 3 months. The original recipe calls for olives but I am not much of a fan so I opted for capers.


I made some ‘yellow’ rice, rice cooked with saffron and turmeric and then I stirred some fresh chopped parsley in just before serving. This isn’t made in a tagine (although I  am sure it could be) but in a large saucepan on the hob; which, unless your oven is huge, is more practical. This is a great dish for serving large groups of people because the cuts of chicken are very cheap. I found that the chicken just fell off the bone when I was taking it out of the pan, it was delicious.

Ingredients: (Serves 4-6)

  • Olive oil
  • 50 g of butter
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp of ground coriander
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed (I didn’t quite have enough so added in some chicken drumsticks).
  • A pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 tsp of boiling water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 200 g of green pitted olives/ ~50 g of capers
  • 6 preserved lemons, halved/sliced or 100 g of preserved lemon paste
  • A bunch of fresh parsley, roughly chopped


  1. Put a generous glug of olive oil and the butter into a (rather) large saucepan and heat it over a medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and fry for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add in the garlic and dry spices (not the saffron) and mix well.
  4. Add the thighs into the pan, forming an even layer, and fry for 5 minutes on one side, then turn over and cook the other side for 5 more minutes.This will seal the thighs.
  5. Grind the saffron with a pestle and mortar  and pour in the 2 tsp of boiling water. Leave it to infuse for a couple of minutes.
  6. Pour the saffron water into the pan, then season with salt and pepper.
  7. Pour in enough water to cover the thighs and then cover with a lid or foil and cook for 2 hours.
  8. After the 2 hours, add in the olives/capers and the lemons and stir well. Cover and cook for 15 more minutes.
  9. Turn off the heat and stir in the fresh parsley. Serve as it is or with rice or cous cous (or anything else that takes your fancy).

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