Lemony Moroccan chicken

Historian Simon Schama shares a family favourite to add a spot of sunshine to the winter months
Lemony Moroccan chicken
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Effort: easy


  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • ½-1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 large chicken, jointed into 8 pieces
  • 1 litres chicken stock
  • 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 1 tbsp finely sliced rind preserved lemons
  • 500 g cooked chickpeas
  • 1 handfuls pitted green olive
  • 1 handfuls coriander, roughly chopped
  • steamed rice, to serve

Tips and Suggestions

For best results use dried chickpeas that you have soaked overnight and then simmered according to packet instructions for about 2½ hours.

Leave out the green olives if you prefer.

To freeze, leave out the fresh coriander and allow the stew to cool completely. Pack it into freezer boxes or bags as desired and seal before freezing up to 6 weeks.

Defrost the stew overnight in the fridge. To reheat, place the stew in a casserole, cover with a piece of crumpled parchment paper that you have dampened with water and top with the lid. Cook at 190C/170C fan/gas 5 for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is hot all the way through and add the coriander just before serving.


1. In casserole or tagine, fry the onions and garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil on a low-medium heat until softened this will take about 7 minutes. Stir in the turmeric and fry for another 2 minutes, then add the paprika, cumin, coriander and cardamom and continue frying over a low heat for a further 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.

2. Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil in the casserole and brown the chicken pieces a few at a time. The remnants of turmeric should turn the chicken a golden colour. If not, add a pinch more turmeric.

3. Return all the browned chicken pieces to the casserole, cover with the spiced onion mixture and pour in the stock. Juice one of the lemons and add to the chicken. Cut the other lemon in quarters and add them to the casserole. If you wish, add some preserved lemon rind. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Bring the casserole to the boil and immediately reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.

5. Add the cooked chickpeas and olives. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary then simmer for another 40 minutes.

6. The chicken is done when it is tender and falling off the bone. The liquid should be golden, lemony and slightly thickened. Serve sprinkled with chopped coriander and accompanied by steamed rice.

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