Global Comfort Food: Chicken Tagine With Olives and Lemon

By Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD | January 27, 2021 | Rally Health


Serves 6

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

A tagine isn’t something that you eat, but a type of pot commonly used in North African cuisines. The earthenware pot has a flat bottom with shallow sides and a tight-fitting conical-shaped lid that helps trap condensation to hold in moisture, similar to a covered skillet or Dutch oven.

Djej Emshmel is a classic Moroccan dish typically prepared in a tagine to slowly simmer chicken in a brothy sauce that includes spices, olives, and preserved lemons. This variation highlights the flavors found in the original dish by cooking it in a cast-iron or heavy skillet and using common spices you probably already have in your pantry, along with fresh lemons and jarred olives. Serve this saucy dish over whole-grain couscous or other grain and steamed green beans.


  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp kosher salt, divided
  • ½ tsp pepper, divided
  • 1 ½ lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onion (about 1 large)
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup pitted green olives, halved


1. Combine paprika, ginger, cumin, turmeric, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper in a small bowl. Rub chicken with spice mixture. Marinate in the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours.

2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a cast-iron or heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 4 minutes or until browned on both sides. Remove chicken from skillet.

3. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp oil in skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until it begins to soften and turn golden. Add broth, lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon, and remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt and pepper, stirring to combine.

4. Return chicken to skillet, placing on top of onions. Top chicken with olives. Cover skillet and cook over low heat for 30 minutes or until chicken is done.

NUTRITION FACTS (per 1/6 of dish): Calories 210; Total Fat 10g (Saturated Fat 2.5g); Cholesterol 105mg; Sodium 420mg; Total Carbs 5g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Total Sugars 2g, Added Sugars 0g); Protein 23g.

This recipe is from Comfort Foods From Around the World.


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