I went to Morocco with my sister a little over two years ago. Although I had done a bit of traveling before Morocco, it was the first place I had ever been to that I truly considered exotic. The culture, architecture and beauty of the country literally took my breath away. I felt like a spell had been cast over me; I was that enamored. Locals told us that tourists find Fez to be so beautiful that there’s actually a term for all the upward gazing called “Fez neck”. Not sure if there’s a term for all the jaw dropping?
So, why Morocco? Because my sister and I have a strong appetite to go anywhere in the world we haven’t been before and because we travel where our stomachs take us! We went to Fez and Marrakesh — both lovely cities in different ways. Besides a deep love for food, I also have an appreciation for architecture. We stayed in 700 year old riads in both cities and spent evenings watching the sunset and listening to the city buzz around us. Even now, I can remember what the warm African breeze feels like. And although a majority of the citizens don’t speak English, hospitality is understood and transcends beyond words. It never seizes to amaze me every time I travel to see that what fundamentally unites us as humans is so much greater than what divides us.
To celebrate the fond memories from that trip, I decided to try my hand at making preserved lemons. Using a recipe slightly adapted from Jamie Oliver, this requires quite a bit of patience to see results but it’s so worth it.
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp whole peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup sea salt
- Large lemons (I used Meyer lemons)
In a bowl, mix the spices with the sea salt.
Cut a cross into the lemons — almost to the base, but so that the quarters stay together.
Push the seasoned salt into the lemon segments and pack the lemons as tightly as possible into an airtight jar. Store in a cool, dark place.
Give it a good shake every three days or so.
The lemons will be ready after one month of preserving.
While patiently waiting for the lemons to preserve, I had to find the right dish to make to properly showcase the unique saltiness of the lemons. Adapting this stewed chicken recipe the The Kitchn, this dish is an easy go-to weeknight meal that can be thrown together in 45 minutes in advance and tastes even better days later as the flavors continue to meld.
- 8 pieces chicken thighs and/or drumsticks, skin removed
- 1 onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds (or coriander powder)
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 preserved lemons, rinsed and chopped (pulp discarded)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup green olives
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to tasteDirections:In a skillet, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium-low heat until soft but not browned. Add garlic, coriander, paprika and oregano. Saute for another minute. Add the tomato paste, cinnamon, preserved lemon and olives. Mix well. Add the chicken.
Add the chicken broth and scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Cover the pan, turn up the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes.
Taste the sauce to check if more salt is needed. The chicken should be very soft by now. Remove all the bones and shred the chicken into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook another 5 minutes without the lid to further reduce the liquid. Serve with couscous or quinoa.
Posted on Thursday, 26 July 2012