(Moroccan chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemons)
Djej emshmel is a popular Moroccan chicken tagine also known as djej m'chemel, djej emshemel or djej emsharmel. The unique flavor of the chicken slow simmered with olives and preserved lemons highlights the best aspects of Moroccan cuisine.
4 to 6 servings
- Olive oil -- 1/4 cup
- Chicken, cut into serving pieces -- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
- Onion, finely chopped or grated -- 1
- Garlic, minced -- 3 or 4 cloves
- Paprika -- 1 tablespoon
- Ground ginger -- 2 teaspoons
- Ground cumin -- 1 teaspoon
- Water or stock -- 3 or 4 cups
- Parsley, chopped --1/2 bunch
- Salt and pepper -- to taste
- Saffron -- big pinch
- Preserved lemon, flesh removed, peel julienned (see variations) -- 1
- Green olives -- 1 cup
- Lemon juice -- 1/4 to 1/3 cup
- Cilantro, chopped -- 1/2 bunch
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Brown the chicken pieces on all sides and remove to a plate. Add the onions to remaining oil and saute until wilted and translucent. Stir in the garlic, paprika, ginger, and cumin and saute for another 3 or 4 minutes.
- Return the chicken to the pot and stir in the water or stock, parsley, salt, pepper and saffron. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Stir in the preserved lemons, olives and lemon juice and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes.
- Stir in the cilantro, adjust seasoning and serve with couscous, rice or crusty bread.
Djej Emshmel Variations
- If preserved lemons aren't available, use a vegetable peeler to peel the zest from 1 or 2 lemons instead. Avoid the white pith as it is bitter.
- Substitute 1 tablespoon fresh, minced ginger for the ground ginger if you like.
- If you don't have saffron, substitute 1/2 teaspoon turmeric. Add it at the same time as the ginger and cumin.
- Be careful not to oversalt. There is a fair amount of salt in the preserved lemons and olives.
- Sometimes the chicken liver is simmered with the dish, mashed or pureed with a little of the sauce and added back to the dish. This thickens the sauce somewhat.
- Add a couple diced potatoes if you like.