Chicken with preserved lemons and couscous

Mancare marocana de lamai murate cu couscous.

Updated: 2011-10-01 2008-02-20 with some new photos for this dish which I now prepare on a regular basis.

Ever since I returned from a few days trip to Morocco I have tried to reproduce a dish which I liked a lot there: chicken with preserved lemons. I had several unsuccessful tries with fresh lemons but the result was too sour. So in order to prepare this dish I required preserved lemons.

Lemons dish

Lemons dish

Mandatory step: preserved lemons

  • take a lemon, cut it almost in half, but leave the 2 parts joint. Do the same think on a perpendicular direction. This will leave you a lemon cut in 4 pieces but still tied together by the lemon skin.
  • add as much salt as possible
  • put in a glass jar which has a way to seal the content (like a metal cap)
  • prepare other lemons in the same way and put them in the glass jar (as much lemons as it can fit). I managed to fit 6 lemons in a 1l glass jar.
  • add lemon juice (from other lemons) until all the lemons in the jar are immersed
  • add some extra salt
  • fit the cap and seal the jar
  • each 1-2 days for about a weak add more salt (this is one step I forgot)
  • leave in a dry, cool and dark place for 4-6 weeks. I found out that if after opening the jar I store it in the refrigerator I can use the lemons for many months. However they never last this long as the demand for this dish is high :)
Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons



  • 4-5 quarters of preserved lemons (this means 1 1/4 lemons) cut in smaller pieces
  • one chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon ginger and 1 tablespoon curcuma (this will add to the nice yellow color of the resulting sauce)
  • skinned chicken (I added 2 legs and 2 breasts without bones) cut in pieces (not very small)
  • olive oil
  • 10 olives (I could only find black olives)
  • do not add salt, it will come from the lemons!


  • Brown the chicken in olive oil until it’s white
  • Remove the chicken and sauce
  • Brown the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil
  • Add the ginger and the curcuma and some pepper and stir for 1 minute (be careful not to burn the curcuma)
  • Add the chicken, 1 cup (250 ml) of water, the lemons and one tablespoon of the lemons sauce
  • Leave it on a low flame for 20 minutes
  • Serve with couscous


  • Enjoy
  • More photos:

chicken_preserved_lemons_olives * 1240 x 1064 * (258KB) preserved_lemons * 1268 x 1184 * (341KB) chicken_preserved_lemons_olives_final * 1020 x 926 * (210KB)

3 Responses

  1. mmmm.. simplu de facut (o spun in calitate de ucenic al maestrului len) si bun de tot(in calitate de consumator)…

    ah, si banuim ca ar fi vorba de ceva calorii negative… btw, ati vazut cat a slabit len? :D

  2. The chicken dish sounds delicious and spicy. i love my food spicy guess i’ll need to preserve some lemons to really know the taste of this dish :) love the photos.

  3. @ali: it is indeed and surprisingly refreshing. I am still preserving the lemons myself but I have seen jars with preserved lemons in oriental shops for simplicity.

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