Cultural background

Foods cooked tagine-style appeared in The Thousand and One Nights in the ninth century. In the book “Tagines & Couscous” author Ghillie Basan traces the flavours of the Moroccan tagine: “Although originally a Berber dish, the tagine has evolved with the history as waves of Arab and Ottoman invaders, Moorish refugees from Andalusia and French colonialists have left their influences on the cuisine”.

 A tagine is actually a two-piece set with a round and shallow base topped by an elegant cone, tapering at its tallest point with a knob that also serves as a handle to check on what’s inside.

Traditionally, the dishes were made of clay, usually unglazed. Classic tagines include combinations of lamb with dried prunes or apricots; chicken with preserved lemon and green olives; duck with dates and honey; and fish cooked with tomatoes, lime, and cilantro.

In the Venice area, the Moroccan community is the largest third-country community that has been present in Italy since the early 1990’s. We have chosen this recipe talking to our friends of the “NoiMigranti” Association of Migrants in Portogruaro.

Culinary information

Ingredients for 4 people

  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 lemon
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 4 pounds), trimmed of excess skin and fat
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and cut into 1/4-in-thickslices
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 large or 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise
  • 1/2 cup Greek cracked green olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Combine the spices in a small bowl and set aside. Zest the lemon. Combine 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest with 1 minced garlic clove; set aside.
  2. Season both sides of chicken pieces with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  3.  Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Brown the chicken pieces skin side down in single layer until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, flip the chicken pieces over and brown the other side, about 4 minutes more.
  4. Transfer the chicken to a large plate; when cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and discard. Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have browned at the edges but still retain their shape, 5 to 7 minutes (add a few tablespoons of water now and then if the pan gets too dark).
  6. Add the remaining minced garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spices and flour and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  7. Stir in the broth, honey, remaining lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits.
  8. Add the chicken (with any accumulated juices) back in, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Add the carrots, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the carrots are tender-crisp, about 10 minutes more.
  10. Stir in the olives, reserved lemon zest-garlic mixture, cilantro, and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice; taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.
  11. Serve with couscous

Other aspects

  • Wash your hands carefully.   
  • Be careful with hot  pans and blenders. 
  • Choose only fresh vegetables