Chicken Tagine | Moroccan Gluten-Free Recipes

The first time I had tagine…

(Scroll down for recipe) 

was on an indescript street in Marrakech. It was Tagine Tuesday for our group and we met right on the street. My first thought was this looks like a taco stand- a room that opens up to the street with plastic tables pushed up right up to the curb. Small clay pots were lined up on the sidewalk, and they were already billowing with steam. When we sat down, you tell them vegetarian, chicken or lamb and they bring it to you immediately with a big basket of bread. They must have prepared them hours before to have them all ready. It is not served with any utensils- you use the bread to grab from the tajine, with friends and family. 

That was the first memory, but my favorite memory of tajine was going into the Sahara with a group of my friends. It took about 10 hours to get into the desert from Marrakech. Along the way, we stopped for lunch to have what else, then tajine. But, that wasn’t the best tajine. Once we arrived to the desert, we would ride camels. We got “suited up” by having Arab men help us tie our scarves around our face in a way that would keep out sand. We hopped on the camels and would ride for 90 minutes at sunset to our campsite in the middle of nowhere. For the more adventurous of the group, we would climb up the mountain, one with a snowboard in hand and climb for about an hour in sand that would make you sink as soon as you stepped into it. It was one of the hardest physical challenges I ever gave myself. The mountain seemed to be at a 70 degree angle. But, we finally made it up by night. The sand blew strong and the dehydration and dryness was so real. It sucked energy out of you like a cotton swab. 

Some of us stayed a little longer to see the stars appear against the dark sky. Then, we ventured down and had a ready meal for us, made by real chefs in at the camp site. Of course, what else could it be than tajine. We ate it with a single light, and 15 of us grabbed bread and dipped it into the tajine and potato stew. It had never tasted so good. Even though I got very sick the next day- i don’t know if it was dehydration or the food, I wouldn’t trade it for anything! After dinner, we had a drum circle in the middle of the Sahara, where the cooks became our entertainment. It was a surreal experience that took you instantly back to prehistoric times where language didn’t need to be spoken to bond in that moment, in the middle of the Sahara. We had to trust them for our survival and it was awesome. 

For more recipes and stories, check out my new cookbook “Stories from Morocco: a food and travel memoir” now available through Kindle. 

Chicken Tagine

Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 35-40 minutes

Ingredients (Serves 4):

  • 1 large white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 chicken (4-5 lb) cut in 1/8ths or 8 pieces leg and thighs, with bone
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ⅛ teaspoon saffron threads
  • ½ cup olives, green, red or mixed
  • 2 preserved lemons, cut in strips (or strips of 1 regular lemons)
Equipment: Tagine, crockpot or dutch oven. 


1. Place the skinless chicken in the bottom of the tagine or crockpot. Then, layer the onions remaining ingredients on top. Pour ½ cup of water, cover and bring to a boil.

2. Once it comes to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook 35-40 minutes, or until chicken starts to pull easily away from the bone. Turn the chicken 2-3 times while cooking to make sure there is enough liquid in the bottom of the tagine. It should be more like a shallow stew, not soup. Add another ¼ to ½ cup water if needed.

3. Let cool a little before serving. Serve on top of couscous with wedges of lemon. Recommended pairing with Date Citrus Salad and Roasted Eggplant Salad.

    layer chicken first

    next top with onions and spices

    bring to a boil. Place a diffuser under tagine to avoid cracking

    turn after 20 min. and check liquid level

    its done when meat is starting to fall from bone

    taking a cooking class in Marrakech

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