Fragrant Chicken with Preserved Lemons


This is a simple chicken dish with fragrant spices and the wonderful, citrussy taste of preserved lemons. It was inspired by my travels to Morocco but I make no claims for its true authenticity, rather it is  ‘in the style of’!

I love Middle Eastern/North Africa cooking and preserved lemons are a key ingredient. If you haven’t used them before they come in a jar and add a bright, sharp and salty taste to dishes, many supermarkets now stock them. The ones I buy are  Belazu Beldi lemons which seem to be the only sort available widely but if you live near a middle eastern shop/market than you will have a good choice. The advice is to remove the pulp and just cut up the skin but I don’t really bother as it seems such a waste of a pricey ingredient so I cut up the whole thing. There are many recipes online to preserve your own lemons so give them a go, I have never found them to taste quite the same but they are still good. You can use up the preserved lemons in lots of different ways such as chopped into plain yoghurt as a dip, roast with eg peppers & potatoes or blitzed with peas & fresh herbs to make a dip.

I have served this dish with rice or couscous as part of a Middle Eastern style meal-lots of sharing type dishes for everyone to dig into and enjoy together. I like the ‘unpretentiousness’ (is that a word? probably not but I’ve just invented it) of this simple, easy family cooking.

Serves 4

½ teasp saffron strands

250ml hot, chicken stock (you may need to add more)

2 lge onions, peeled and chopped

¾ tbsp. olive oil

3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

1 tbsp. ground ginger

1 tbsp. ground cumin

6/8 chicken thighs with skin on

2 preserved lemons, drained &chopped roughly

Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt

Lge handful chopped, fresh coriander*

Lge handful chopped, fresh parsley


  1. Put the saffron strands to infuse in the stock.
  2. Use a large, casserole dish with a lid. Add olive oil and fry the onions until golden. Add the ginger, cumin and garlic and fry for a few minutes. Be careful not to let the garlic catch. Add the chicken and the preserved lemons. Add the stock with the saffron. Season generously with black pepper and salt
  3. Cover & cook gently for an hour (I find it easiest to do this in the oven but you can do it on the top). Check that it isn’t drying out and add more stock if needed.
  4. When the chicken is falling apart, add the fresh herbs and serve and check the seasonings.
  5. Serve with rice or flatbreads. As you can see from the photo I served this with homemade hummus as part of the meal.
  6. As with all sorts of casserole etc. this taste better the next day