Djej Makalli

Since I’ve written a fair bit about Morocco on this blog (original post here, plus a redirect to more extensive writing here), I figured it wouldn’t be amiss to include yet another Moroccan recipe — especially because, if you’ve gone to the trouble of making preserved lemons (see previous two posts), you might want more than one way to use them. So here is another use for those lemons — a wonderful Moroccan tagine of chicken with preserved lemons and olives. (I’ve also written about olives and their history, and offered a recipe for Moroccan marinated olives, so you’re getting to the place now that you could create an entire Moroccan meal. Just add the Moroccan orange salad for dessert.)

Traditionally, this would be cooked in the earthenware cooking vessel known as a tagine (of which I wrote here), but the recipe below has been modified for preparation in more common cooking vessels, so you can enjoy it even without owning a tagine. However, so common is the cooking method that the dish (and other tagine-cooked dishes like it) is also known as a tagine.

So while I generally encourage people to simply add a few exotic elements to their regular menu, rather than trying to prepare entire meals from one country (just to make the task of expanding one’s repertoire a bit less daunting), with this recipe, you’ll now be able to cook an entire Moroccan meal, should you wish to do so. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Djej Makalli
Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives

4-5 lb. cut up chicken (or your favorite parts)
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 2 Tbs.
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. ground ginger
1-1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
dash cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. coarse (kosher) salt
1/4 tsp. finely ground black pepper
2 large Spanish onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) chicken broth, unsalted
1 7 oz. jar pitted green olives, drained and rinsed
1-1/2 preserved lemons (12-14 wedges, recipe below)
1/4 cup lemon juice

In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, ginger, paprika, cayenne, cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup water. Roll the chicken pieces in the mixture, coating them thoroughly, then nestle them into the marinade, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in the bottom of a large frying pan, Dutch oven, or flame-proof casserole. Add the onions, and cook gently for about 10 minutes, or until transparent. Remove the onion with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Increase the heat, add the chicken and cook for a few minutes on each side, just until the chicken begins to change color. Then add the broth and 2 cups of water, the onion, and the parsley and cilantro. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 35 minutes.

Discard the pulp from the preserved lemon, rinse the rinds, and add them and the olives to the simmering chicken. Cover, and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the chicken to a serving platter, then boil the sauce until it begins to thicken, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, pour the sauce over the chickens, and serve. Serves 6.

Note: A variation of this dish that some may enjoy calls for tossing two or three chicken livers into the liquid while the chicken simmers. Remove them when you remove the chicken, then mash the livers and stir them back into the liquid before boiling it, to add more flavor, body, and thickness to the sauce.

1 Comment

Filed under culinary history, Culture, Food, Recipes, Travel

One response to “Djej Makalli

  1. This recipe made my heart flutter. I am delighted to report that the djej-Makalli dish I made using your wonderful recipe was successful. I am so, so excited. I can’t believe how good it was since I usually don’t get things right on the first try. Must have been your very excellent recipe instructions.


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