A Spicier Chicken Tagine

I love discovering new cookbooks and recipes.  Recently, my sister lent me her new cookbook called Balaboosta, by Einat Admony, who owns with her husband, the restaurant of the same name in New York City. Balaboosta is a Yiddish term denoting the perfect homemaker, wife, mother and cook. That should conjure up the aromas and delicacies at their Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant plus the recipes shared in the cookbook.

Because I have recently returned from Morocco, you can imagine which recipes I was drawn to first.  And when my sister arrived for dinner, I cooked for her (and 9 other people) my edited version of the Spicy Chicken Tagine.

The ingredients are fresh and aromatic; leeks, whole fennel bulbs, orange, fresh mint and garlic, supplemented with harissa, turmeric, cumin and paprika.  What a colourful palette.

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And one preserved lemon, store-bought at a middle eastern supermarket or homemade (see Preserved Lemons) posted earlier.
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Ingredients are all prepared and ready to go.  Just have to get some orange juice and chicken stock ready.

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Oh, the golden hue of the juice, stock and spices.

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Add the rest of the ingredients and then some seasoned, skinless, bone-in chicken pieces.

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I cooked the tagine for about 3 hours.  The chicken was so tender, no knives were necessary.  I proudly call myself a balaboosta!

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A plated serving of Spicy Chicken Tagine in my decorative serving tagine from Morocco

Spicy Chicken Tagine

1 orange
4 chicken thighs, 4 chicken breasts, halved, skinless but bone-in
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups chicken stock
2-3 tbsp. harissa (if you don’t like things too spicy, limit to 2)
2 tbsp. sweet paprika
1 tbp. cumin
1 tsp. turmeric
1 preserved lemon, cut into small wedges
10 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 fennel bulbs, cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges
2 leeks, light green and white parts only, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces, divided in two parts

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Slice the ends off the orange and stand the fruit on one flat end.  slice off the orange peel with as little of the white pith as possible and put aside.
  3. Squeeze juice from the orange; you should get about 1/4 cup — top up to one cup with extra store-bought orange juice.
  4. Season the chicken pieces with salt & pepper.
  5. Put the chicken stock, orange juice, harissa, paprika, cumin and turmeric into a large Dutch oven.  Mix well.  Put in preserved lemon, orange peel, garlic cloves, fennel, leeks, and 1/2 the mint.  Add the chicken pieces and toss everything together until well coated.
  6. Cook covered for 1 1/2 hours.  Turn chicken pieces over and mix again and cook for another hour.
  7. Remove the lid and bring the pot to the table and sprinkle remaining mint leaves on top.  The chicken meat will just fall from the bone.   Serve with wedges of crusty bread.

I’m sure you will get the same rave reviews as I did.  Enjoy.



  1. Cathy Levine · · Reply

    Yummy yummy……..must try. A thought….. sometimes I see a print icon at the bottom of some recipes.Do you know how to add this?


    1. Cathy, it was very yummy! The original recipe also had olives in it but I had some no-olive fans at the table! Good idea re: printing recipe — something I will work on for a future post! Shelley

  2. Frances harris · · Reply

    I can actually taste and smell this tagine as I read it.
    Very good!!

    1. And it’s even better to eat!

  3. Wow! Looks fantastic! We will be trying this one! Thanks for sharing:)

  4. D BEN-REUVEN · · Reply

    my friend Monica Rosenthal is presenting her pottery at the Shenkman Centre this weekend. She has made a tagine. Maybe something you might want to acquire.

    1. I own serving tagines but not a cooking tagine…yet! If someone would like to own a local potter’s unique tagine piece, or other cooking pieces, check out http://www.ottawaguildofpotters.ca/ .

  5. I am the sister! And this was part of the most amazing dinner! How lucky I am to have a sister who loves to share her fun recipes, flare for serving, and great cooking skills 🙂

    1. And this comment coming from my sister who is a gourmet cook too! An honour and a pleasure to prepare a themed dinner for you! xox

      1. You’re too kind – I have lots of fun cooking international dishes but gourmet?!

  6. sheryl lipton · · Reply

    sounds yummy, shelley!! i’ve never tasted/made/bought preserved lemons….do you get them in a bottle???
    thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Sheryl…preserved lemons can be found in glass jars at middle eastern supermarkets. They are preserved in salt and lemon juice. They give a nice zing to the dish. Until you find a jar of them, you could substitute a regular lemon but hold out if you can wait!! Shelley

      1. Hi Sheryl + Shelley – I’ve bought preserved lemons at Whole Foods.

      2. Good to know. There is not a Whole Foods in Ottawa yet but there is in Toronto.

  7. mounia · · Reply

    i’m so glad you liked my country this much 🙂
    welcome in Morocco every time

    1. Hello Mounia. I adored Morocco. My blogsite is full of recipes that I tried when I was there and I attempted to emulate. I hope to return one day soon to continue my journey. Shelley

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