Chicken Tagine with Olives and Lemons makalli

This is an exquisite theme on the classic Chicken Tagine with lemons and olives. The makalli variation is more subtle, flavoured with saffron and ginger and served in a thick onion-based sauce.

Serves 6 people

2 chickens, cut up into 6 pieces each
225 g (8 oz) ripe olives
2 medium onions, grated
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crashed
1 preserved lemon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon pulverised saffron
6 sprigs fresh green coriander
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

The day before, prepare the chicken marinade. Wash the chicken in salted water and drain. Crash 4 cloves of garlic and make into a paste with 2 tablespoons of salt. Rub into the chicken and then rinse under running water until the chicken no longer smells of garlic. Drain and set aside. Using a blender, combine the oil, ginger, salt, pepper, 3 cloves of garlic and the pulp of the preserved lemon into a marinade. Rub into the pieces of chicken and then refrigerate covered overnight.

The next day, place the chicken with the marinade in a 5-quart deep casserole over medium heat. Stir in the grated onion, saffron and green coriander and cook until the chicken is browned. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes – until the chicken is tender. Turn the meat often and add water whenever necessary.

Quarter the preserved lemons and rinse them along with the olives. Drain and set aside. When the chicken is very tender, nearly falling off the bone, add the olives and quartered preserved lemons and cook, uncovered, for another 10 minutes.

To serve, arrange the meat on the serving dish, and spoon