Turmeric, saffron & ginger chicken tagine with preserved lemons, Sicilian olives and zesty greens

This is a classic Moroccan tagine dish that I have tweaked and added to in order to enhance its medicinal and nutritional properties. I love cooking food that nourishes the body and tastes delicious. Food really can be medicine, so we are always sneaking in more nutrient dense ingredients in to get the most out of our meals. In saying that, lets not forget about our spices. Your family and friends will love this warming meal full of feel good, life enhancing spices.

Turmeric is such a powerhouse of goodness due to its “ anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, anti-carcinogenic and antimicrobial properties, in addition to its use in cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal disorders” (Braun & Cohen, 2010: 897). So we are always finding ways to incorporate it into our meals.

I love the use of saffron in meals as saffron has mood enhancing properties. Studies have shown adding saffron in the diet can have positive effects on the nervous system and is useful in treating depression and anxiety (Mazidi et.at, 2016). Saffron is great used in winter if you suffer from seasonal depression.

There is evidence to suggest that ginger has anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, glucose-sensitising and stimulatory effects on the gastrointestinal tract. It has been shown to have a warming effect on food, and it also promotes feelings of satiety (Mansour et.al, 2012). So be sure to use this spice if you would like to take advantage of its potential role in weight management.

Ingredients for the Tagine (Serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 organic chicken, jointed, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 3 red onions, roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed then roughly chopped
  • ½ a teaspoon of saffron (activate the saffron by letting it sit in 300 ml of water for 30 mins)
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger
  • 200ml of bone broth (I always make batches and freeze in 200ml portions)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Peel of 1 preserved lemon, chopped (we make our own but it can be bought)
  • A bunch of coriander, chopped
  • A bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 20 Sicilian green olives (you can use pitted if you have little ones)


  • Heat the olive oil in a big, deep heavy bottomed pot
  • Add the onions, garlic and ginger till soft
  • Brown the chicken, stir to brown on all sides
  • Pour in the saffron liquid and add the turmeric and bone broth
  • Gently simmer, covered, for 40 minutes
  • Stir in the lemon juice
  • Add the preserved Lemon and olives
  • Simmer, uncovered, for a further 5 minutes, season to taste
  • Add the coriander and parsley and stir (leaving a little for a garnish)

Prep Zesty greens while the tagine is cooking; wait till the tagine has about 5 mins to go before starting to stir-fry.

Ingredients for the zesty greens (Serves 4)

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • A teaspoon of nigella seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon each of cumin and coriander seeds, toasted in a pan then crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 250g green beans, topped and tailed
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, chopped into thirds
  • 250g baby peas (if using frozen thaw in some warm water, then strain)
  • 150g snow peas, topped and tailed
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Zest of one organic unwaxed lemon
  • A bunch of mint, chopped
  • Good quality salt (Himalayan is my choice) and pepper


  • Heat pan or wok for stirfrying. This takes at least 5 mins
  • Add olive oil, wait till warm
  • Add onions and garlic and cook till soft
  • Add mustard seeds, nigella seeds, cumin and coriander and stir till the mustard seeds pop!
  • Add, green beans, asparagus, baby peas, snow peas, add lemon juice and stir fry till cooked through
  • Add the zest
  • Stir through the mint
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve as soon as ready with the garnish on top.


Braun, L. and M. Cohen. 2010. Herbs & Natural Supplements: An Evidence Based Guide. 3rd Edition. Churchill Livingstone.

Mazidi, M., Shemshian, M., Mousavi., S., Norouzy, A., Kermani, T., Moghiman, T., Sadeghi, A., Mokhber, N., Ghayour-Mobarhan, M., and G. Ferns. 2016. “A double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial of Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) in the treatment of anxiety and depression.” Journal of Complementary Medicine, 13(2).

Mansour, M., Ni, Y., Roberts, A., Kelleman, M., Choudry, A., and P. St-Onge. 2012. “Ginger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: A pilot study.” Journal of Metabolism Clinical and Experimental, 61(10).

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