Chicken Tagine w/ Preserved Lemons & Olives~ My Cooking Class at Cafe Clock in Fes, Medina

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by Sara on September 22, 2010


Tagine is a type of dish found in the North African cuisines of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia  which is named after the special pot in which it is cooked. In Moroccan cuisine Tagines are basically stews that are slow- cooked at a low temperature, resulting in tender meat with aromatic vegetables and sauces like the hot & spicy Harissa (See Recipe). Moroccan tagines often combine lamb or chicken with a medley of ingredients or seasonings like: olives, apples, pears, apricots, raisins, prunes, dates, nuts, with fresh or preserved lemons. Traditional spices that are used to flavor Tajines include ground cinnamon, saffron, ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika, pepper, as well as the famous spice blend Ras el Hanout. Some famous Tajine dishes have chicken, lamb, seafood, olives, citrus , nuts & dried fruits like Apricots & Raisins.

I learned this Traditional Classic Tagine dish at a Cooking School in Fes, Morocco called Cafe Clock. Cafe Clock is a cool cultural haven in the heart of Fes Medina (See my pictorial).  Cafe Clock has a rich history, one of the first & oldest clock towers in Fes.  Mike Richardson, originally from UK,  took on a tremendous task of restoring a 250 year old courtyard house in the heart of Fes, Medina. I was fortunate enough to visit Fes and  took a cooking class at Cafe Clock this past June. As soon as we landed in Fes, all I could think about was the cooking class at Cafe Clock! I was informed by our wonderful hosts Jennifer & Gail at our  guesthouseDar Roumana that Cafe Clock is one of the coolest restaurants in Fes Medina. I woke up early the next day on a cloudy  mid- June morning, full of excitement and anticipation about my cooking class. Mohamed, a very nice staff memeber at Dar Roumana was nice enough to escort me to Cafe Clock. As I walked the narrow, curvy ancient streets of the Fes Medina,.I tried to absorb the sights & sounds of the vibrant Souks of this mystical city. As soon as I arrived at Cafe Clock, I was welcomed by Mike, Souda, Jalil and rest of the friendly staff. Souda, my teacher quickly made me feel comfortable and offered me sweet Mint Tea (See Recipe) which is the one quintessential act of hospitality in Morocco which I loved & now miss very much.  Also I would like to add that Cafe Clock has the best Cappuccino I have ever had, Really!

Souad, a soft spoken, bubbly, friendly young woman who taught me so much about the rich Moroccan culture & cuisine. Souad and I quickly discussed the menu and took our wicker baskets to shop for fresh ingredients in the Souk (which means a market in Arabic)  right next to Cafe Clock. As we walked in the Souk ,  she taught  me  the importance of using freshest  of ingredients that are in season & readily available in the markets, which is the key to well ALL great cuisines of the world. Souad talked about how family keeps every Moroccan grounded, they take care of there elderly parents & grandparents, she added if a family has an elderly relative living with them then they have the blessing from God. She also spoke about the importance of Pomegranates (See Recipe) in Moroccan culture, a family should be close like how closely seeds of Pomegranate are placed. Back at Cafe Clock I learned how to make a Chicken Tagine, a very famous & delicious Bean Soup called Bassirra, a spicy eggplant salad called Zaalouq, Almond Macaroons & Date Truffles (See Recipe). Suoad is a fabulous teacher who is passionate about cooking & I am forever thankful to her for teaching me a world of knowledge.

~Courtyard of Cafe Clock~

Chicken Tagine is a classic dish throughout Morocco which has two most traditional ingredients: olives & preserved lemons. Chicken Tagine is a refreshing and tasty dish. I used Organic chicken drumsticks & thighs for my dish. You can also serve couscous and a side of salad or a vegetable dish, such as Zaalouk or Spiced Carrot Salad and traditional Moroccan or any good crusty bread to soak up the scrumptious juices.

Recipe for:


Recipe adapted from Cafe Clock


2 1/2 lbs – 3 lbs of Organic Chicken Drumsticks & Thigs

1 Large Onions, Sliced

1/2 Teaspoon Saffron

1 Teaspoon of HARISSA <—– Click here to check out my  recipe.

2 Teaspoons of Garlic/Ginger paste

2 Preserved Lemons, quartered

1 Cup of Olives

1/4 Cup Cilantro, Chopped

2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

Sea Salt to taste

1/4 Cup of Olive Oil

1 Cup of Water


1. One hour before preperation, Marinate the Chicken with Sea Salt, Saffron, Lemon Juice, Garlic/Ginger paste & Olive Oil.

2. In a large pan, Saute the onions in about 2 tablespoon of oil until translucent.

3. Add the Chicken to the pan & Saute for 2 minutes.

4. Add the Harissa &  pulp of the preserved lemons. ( I bought from williams-sonoma)

5. Add water and let it cook on medium low heat until the chicken is tender & the liquid has dried.

6. Garnish with preserved Lemons, Olives & Chopped Cilantro.

7. Serve Hot with Couscous or a Crusty Bread.

8. Enjoy ♥

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Tara Bradford September 22, 2010 at 11:27 am

Lovely photos: it all looks delicious! Must get my husband the chef to try this. Thanks for the recipe!

eclectic gourmet September 22, 2010 at 11:40 am

the finished dish looks so exotic and difficult to make, but the recipe looks pretty easy – have to give it a try!

Faith September 22, 2010 at 11:46 am

I really need to purchase a tagine! It’s something I’ve been wanting for a while now and your lovely dish of chicken, preserved lemon, and olives has inspired me!

Sue September 22, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I have to get a tagine! Your chicken looks so delicious. I am really wondering how those preserved lemons taste after being cooked. I am sure they add tremendous flavor. Everything looks beautiful – You’ve inspired me to cook and travel. :)

Margaret Murphy Tripp September 23, 2010 at 12:56 am

Wow! That looks delicious and the photos are all gorgeous!

Nadia September 23, 2010 at 1:26 am

Wow! Stunning! Loved reading about your time at Cafe Clock, seems like a wonderful experience. Your chicken looks so yummy! Did you bring the preserved lemons from Morocco? Your photos are beautiful as always, love how you tiled them all so we could see them all!

lamia September 23, 2010 at 11:31 am

yummy!!! that looks delicious!! thanks for sharing..I think I’ll give it a try soon!!!!


sarisignorelli September 23, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Stunning photos and you made one of my favorite dishes. I remember first discovering preserved lemons–it’s one of those milestone foodie moments, don’t you think :-)

Tanvi September 24, 2010 at 4:47 am

I love that stunning pottery..I always feel that a beautiful pottery adds to the beauty of the food…I love gazing at your amazing collection of dishes, pottery and stuff…wow!feeling inspired!

Lawyer Loves Lunch September 24, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Sara, this post makes me want to travel to Morocco immediately! I love that you took a cooking class while traveling. I spend most of my travel time eating ;) The tagine looks lovely. I’ve never had preserved lemons before. Do you find them at an Arab grocery store? Whole Foods? :)

Jamie September 25, 2010 at 8:22 am

Gorgeous, stunning pictures that take us on an exotic trip elsewhere – as usual! Chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemons is my sons favorite dish which he discovered about 12 years ago when my husband took him to Morocco. My husband makes a pretty delicious one but I so want to try this recipe. Wonderful as always, Sara!

dinners & dreams September 28, 2010 at 1:04 am

Amazing, colorful chicken tagine. How I miss having one of those. Time to make it!


marla {family fresh cooking} September 28, 2010 at 3:09 am

I have never tried a tagine & have always been tempted by the ingredients and spices used. You are so lucky to have had this experience in Morocco. I have had some persian food that uses preserved lemons & I think prunes? It was delicious. Gorgeous photos!

Sara September 28, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Thank you all for your sweet comments!!! Try the chicken tagine recipe…its quite a simple one!
Thank you @Tara @Laviza @Faith @Sue @Margaret @Nadia @Lamia @Sari @Tavi @Azmeena @Jamie @Nisrine @Marla

Eliana September 28, 2010 at 6:19 pm

What a wonderful mixture of flavors you have going on here. This looks super delicious.

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