This is a popular dish made with preserved lemons in all Moroccan homes and is also served at weddings. Each home makes slight changes in the recipe. This one I learned from a cook in my mother-in-law's home. Moroccans eat off a communal plate. This chicken is served on a single plate in the center of the table (at weddings you will see four chickens on one large platter), eaten with crusty bread and no utensils. You, of course, can use your knife and fork!


Recipe Summary

45 mins
55 mins
15 mins
1 hr 55 mins
8 servings


Original recipe yields 8 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Soak vermicelli noodles in hot water until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain and add raisins, 1 tablespoon cilantro, 1 clove grated garlic, 1 teaspoon chopped preserved lemon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1 dash turmeric, salt, and pepper.

  • Clean the chicken, keeping the skin intact. Stuff with the prepared vermicelli. Tie legs closed with kitchen string. Remove seeds from preserved lemon and cut into 2 or 3 pieces.

  • Heat oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add grated onion, preserved lemon, remaining 3 tablespoons cilantro, remaining 3 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, remaining 1/2 teaspoon ginger, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric. Stir together over medium heat. Add chicken and fry, being sure it doesn't stick and break the skin, about 2 minutes on each side.

  • Add enough water that the chicken is about half immersed. Add saffron. Cook until chicken is no longer pink in the center, 30 to 40 minutes, checking water level occasionally. Add olives about 15 minutes before the chicken is finished. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone, should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Remove the chicken to a plate and reduce the sauce until it is thick, 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Pat the chicken dry and remove kitchen string; place in a baking dish. Set an oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source and preheat the oven's broiler.

  • Broil chicken in the preheated oven, turning as needed, until skin is darkened and crisp, about 5 minutes total.

  • Spread the sauce on a platter and place chicken on top.

Cook's Note:

You can remove the lemon rinds from the sauce, or keep them in if some people like to eat them.

Nutrition Facts

386 calories; protein 24.7g; carbohydrates 23.7g; fat 21.1g; cholesterol 66.2mg; sodium 1219.1mg. Full Nutrition