Djaj M’qualli (Moroccan Chicken Tagine)

Djaj M’qualli (Moroccan Chicken Tagine)

Djaj m’qualli is a classic Moroccan dish, traditionally served as a tagine – i.e. a slow cooked stew named after the clay pot it is baked in. Our version is designed for contemporary kitchens, including a quick version of preserved Limoneira® lemons that will do in a pinch if you don’t have a jar on hand. Add olives and spices, and it’s a tender and flavorful dish that will quickly become a favorite.
Course Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine Middle Eastern


Quick Preserved Lemons

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 Limoneira® lemons


  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 Limoneira® lemon zest & juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  • 3-4 lbs chicken thighs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 3 red onions chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 2 preserved Limoneira® lemons roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup green olives pitted
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock


Day Before


    • Beat the egg yolk in a large bowl.
    • Add the lemon juice and zest, and continue to beat.
    • Stir in the spices until the mixture is completely blended.
    • Place the chicken thighs in a shallow dish, and pour the marinade over them. Turn the chicken thighs over, and use your fingers if necessary to make sure that the marinade is all over the chicken pieces.
    • Cover and let the chicken marinate in the fridge overnight.

    Preserved Lemons

    • Wash the lemons thoroughly, and cut them into quarters.
    • Add the water and salt to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
    • Lower the heat to a simmer, and add the lemons. Cook for about 30 minutes. The liquid should be reduced by about half, and the rinds of the lemons tender.
    • Remove from the heat, and cool to room temperature.
    • Take out the seeds, and place the lemons and liquid in a covered container, and refrigerate overnight.

    Next Day

    • Heat the oil in a large skillet. Saute the onions and garlic for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant.
    • Next, add the cilantro, parsley, and preserved lemons. Cook for another 3 minutes or so, stirring constantly.
    • Add the chicken thighs to the skillet, and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side to brown.
    • Sprinkle the chicken with turmeric and salt, stirring to blend.
    • Add the olives, and pour the chicken stock into the skillet or pot.
    • Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 2 hours.
    • Check periodically, and add a bit more chicken stock if it seems to be getting too dry.
    • When it’s done, allow the tangine to rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving.


    *Note: In lieu of chicken thighs, you can use a whole roasting chicken, about 3-4 lbs, cut into pieces.
    Keyword Lemons
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