Moroccan Mqualli of chicken with confit of carrots and orange juice

Moroccan Mqualli of chicken with confit of carrots and orange juice


Moroccan Mqualli of chicken with confit of carrots and orange juice recipe is largely inspired by Nihad Rachad’s video . I did like her idea of using orange juice with the carrot topping. I was intrigued by it and it turned out to be a hit in my little family.

Moroccan Mqualli of chicken with confit of carrots and orange juice

Moroccan Mqualli of chicken with confit of carrots and orange juice. Credit @Nada Kiffa

Actually, I was intrigued by the use of orange in the topping until I digged in some old recipe books and there it was: orange can be used as of topping in a few tagines, it’s been done for ages and in different ways..

A combination that works

Although sugar is added to the confit of carrots, somehow, it does not come through as a sweet dish. That was another surprising thing in this dish which is perfect for the spring/summer season.

I just regretted we didn’t have enough topping as I was still hungry for me by the end of the meal.


Serves 2
Prep: 10 min – Cooking: 1 hour ( 1 1/2 in a tagine over coal/wood)

For the chicken 

  • 1/2 chicken or 2 thighs from a big chicken, prepared (*) the Moroccan way
  • 1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tsp of freshly grated ginger or flat tsp of ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp of white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric
  • A good pinch of saffron threads (1/2 tsp)
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt to taste
For the confit of carrots with orange
  • 500 g of carrots, peeled and grated or finely julienned
  • 100 g of caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • 30 g of butter or olive oil
  • 200 ml of orange juice
Place a pan or a tagine over medium heat. Add 1/4 of water, then all the ingredients and mix. Let simmer until the liquid has slightly reduced. Add enough hot water to cover 2/3 of the bird. Cover and cook for at least 40 min. The sauce should be reduced by then and the chicken cooked tender.
Make the confit of carrots
In a pan over medium heat, place the grated carrots along with the lemon and orange zest. Add water to cover 3/4 of the mix and blanch it for about 5 minutes.
Now that the water should have almost evaporated and the carrots are soft, add the rest of the ingredients and stir frequently for about 10 minutes. The carrots should be ready by then and the liquid all gone.


After cooking the chicken, you could slightly roast it for 15 minutes under a grill before serving it. Some people like this option.


If you have cooked the chicken in a tagine, just top it with the confit of carrots with orange.
If you have cooked in a pot or pan, place the chicken in the middle of a serving dish, pour the sauce on top and around. Top the chicken base with the carrot paste.
Serve warm with bread to soak that nice sauce.
(*) How to prepare the chicken for cooking in Moroccan Cuisine
In Morocco, we usually buy chicken from a market where it would be slaughtered the same day, on request, then treated with hot water to remove the feathers. Then the man in charge of this gives us the bird with its giblets and gizzards.
The bulk of chicken is then taken care of for further cleaning and tenderising, this is a woman’s job and it happens in the house, the same day the chicken was bought.
Buckets, sieves and brine are all what’s needed to go about this..I give directions for 1 bird. For more, just multiply the ingredients.
This job is done once but then the freezer is stocked for months.
I do the the same for a couple of chickens every 2 weeks in my London kitchen.
For health safety, make sure you clean any surface or tool in contact with chicken with hot soapy water.
For 1 chicken
  • About 3 liters of water or enough to cover the bird (whole or in pieces)
  • 2 tbsps vinegar, 
  • 1 tbsp of salt 
  • Lemon or orange rinds, wedges or slices

How to clean the chicken

First of all, clean the chicken thoroughly. Rub it with sea salt and 1/2 a lemon or butter orange. 
Dip it in a brine for at least 3 hours.
Try to get rid of any fat between the skin and the meat (yep, those white spots, you will never find them in a chicken cooked Moroccan style). Discard any bit of feather left as well, the membrane between the skin and the meat.
Be careful not to tear up the skin if you want to roast the chicken.
Drain, pat dry and freeze for the future or carry on with your recipe of the day.



Indian-Pakistani inspired curry: a Tikka masala-meets-jalfrezi on a bed of basmati rice

Having missed the smell of Indian and Pakistani food in my flat and having my mother over for a month, I thought I’ll introduce her to a food she thinks is over-spiced, hot and always containing fenugreek.

She was not happy that the folks in the Sub-Asian continent have something similar to our Mlaouis (in the form of parathas) and Tannourt bread ( in the form of Tandoori bread)..


Today’s recipe is rather a combination of chicken tikka masala and jalfrezi curry on a bed of Basmati rice with Saffron, lemon, cumin seeds and green cardamom. All is layered and finished cooking in a dum biryani style. What’s not to like? We were 2 hungry women and we didn’t leave a single grain of rice behind.

This recipe looks too long but it’s so easy to make. The result is just worth it. It’s so comforting and very satisfying.

My mother loved it and she asked for another “sample” of Indian/Pakistani food..How is that for a result?

Oh, and for the record, I got her hooked to mango chutney and garlic naans. Pretty proud of myself!



Serves 3 to 4
Prep: 5 min – marination time: minimum 2 hrs- cooking: 30-45 min
  • About 500g of chicken cut into chuncks (bones in) and marinated for at least a couple of hours (see below)

For the chicken marinade

  • 1 tbsp of minced Ginger
  • 1 tsp of crushed Garlic
  • ¼ tsp. of Red Chilli Powder
  • ¼ tsp. of Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tbsp. of Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp of Tandoori powder or good Garam Masala or 2 tbsp of a good Tikka paste
  • 2 tbsp. of Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tbps of plain yogurt

For the curry (in order of use)

  • 5 Tablespoons clarified butter
  • About 6 to 10 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp of black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 Tablespoon jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • About 10 cm cinnamon stick broken into 3
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic and ginger paste (or grate them fresh)
  • 1 Tablespoon coriander powder – preferably home roasted and ground
  • 1 Tablespoon red chilli powder
  • About 10 cm cinnamon stick broken into 3
  • 1 tbsp of tikka paste (or use garam masala before the end of simmering)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp of chopped hot chili


To add 2 minutes before the end of curry-cooking stage
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut lenthwise
  • 1/2 red and/or bell pepper, cut lengthwise
  • ½ medium onion cut in quarters then halves (which makes 8 chuncks)
  • 1 tomato roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp of garam masala (if you haven’t used the tikka paste in the curry)
  • For garnishing
  • 1 tsp of slivered fresh ginger
  • A handful of coriander leaves
For the rice (7 to 8 min cooking in boiling water)
  • 1 cup of basmati rice (soaked for 30 min and washed 3 until water is clear)
  • ½ tsp of cumin seeds
  • 3 or 4 green cardamoms
  • A pinch of saffron threads
  • Less than 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of rice needs 1 ¾ of water to cook it
 For the yoghurt-harissa dip (Adapted from  Jamie Oliver)
  • 1 cup of yoghurt
  • 1 tbps of harissa
  • 2 tbps of chopped cucumber
  • A sprinkle of salt
  • A sprinkle of cumin seeds
  • A hint of freshly grated ginger



The curry
Melt the ghee in a hot wok or large frying pan. Add the spices, curry leaves and onions and allow to sizzle for about 30 seconds.
Once the onions are translucid, add the ginger and garlic paste, add the tikka paste if using it and stir.
Add tomatoes and about ¼ cup of water. Let simmer for about 10 mins.
Pick up the curry leaves and the cinnamon stick and liquidize the sauce with a mixer. Put them back and set aside.
In a another pan, shallow-fry the chicken (or bake it until halfway cooked).
Add the sauce on the top of the chicken and let simmer, covered.
A couple of minutes after the sauce has reduced, add the onion slices, bell pepper, green chillies and tomato. Set aside
The Spices-scented basmati rice
Cook the rice for 7 to 8 minutes in boiling water, covered.
Once the rice is dry and cooked through, transfer 1/3 to a pyrex dish (or similar), layer the reduced
curry, cover with the rest of the rice. Bake in a preheated oven at maximum for 10 min. I usually
cover the dish with aluminium foil to trap the steam and allow the rice to infuse, just like for a dum
Garnish with slivered ginger and chopped coriander.

The yoghurt dip
Mix all ingredients and serve on the side.


Note: I used a decent store-bought tikka paste but you can use any other paste you like (Indian-inspired). If you can’t get hold of any, here’s Jamie Oliver’s post of how to make some of them. The recipes cover Jalfrezi, Korma, Rogan josh, Tikka Masala paste ……

Classic Moroccan chicken with olves served topped with a signature onion topping

Traditional Moroccan chicken with olives and preserved lemons: Djaj M’qalli (mqalli) be zeitoun


Moroccan chicken with olives and preserved lemons is as Moroccan as it can get! It’s a dish served in ceremonies and during special events.

Every single stage in making this dish is important. From a properly handled chicken to the final texture of the gravy to how the whole thing comes together, everything about this dish is very important: the ingredients, the method, the time and most of all LOVE.

Classic Moroccan chicken with olves served topped with a signature onion topping

The iconic Moroccan chicken with daghmira and olives. Credit @Nada Kiffa

The dish can be cooked over a cooker or a brazier. whatever the way of cooking it, it can’t be rushed. It’s proper slow food.

I particularly love the chicken with olives and preserved lemons because of its onion gravy (deghmira). It is what literally makes the fame of this dish and this is how we know whether the cook is good or not. Deghmira actually can make the fortune of some traditional cooks called Tebbakhats (women cooking for major events such as weddings) or their misfortune.
Serves 4 persons
Prep: 15 min (if other steps were processed ahead of time)- cooking: 60-70 min
  • 1 chicken (1k to 1.2 kgs)+ 1 chicken liver
  • 3 medium-size yellow onions, finely chopped (you may use a food processor)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ½ Moroccan preserved lemon (pitted)
  • 2 handfuls of green and purple olives
  • 2 tbsps olive oil and 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp of salt (because this dish will be seasoned with the olives and the lemon)
  • 1 tsp of black and white pepper (mix),
  • 1 heaped tsp of ground ginger,
  • A good pinch of saffron threads (quickly toasted and crushed between the palm of your hands)
  • ½ tsp of smen (Moroccan aged cured butter).
  • Depending on the regions, the different spices that can be added (limited to these): cumin, cayenne,  paprika, 1 tbsp of chopped parsley and coriander
Prep steps
1- Chicken in a brine: If you are not a follower of this blog, I’d like you to know that in Morocco, we keep our chicken in a brine (water, salt, lemon juice and rind, vinegar) for a few hours which makes it tender and allows us to easily pull the fat between the skin and the meat. We wash it with tape water and we proceed with the recipe.

2- Prepare the marinade: Mix all the spices (except the saffron thread) with smen and 1 tbsp of water.

Massage the meat and the skin of the bird with this paste. Leave it in a bowl or a plastic bag. Add 1 chopped onion to this and place in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. This step is optional but it makes all the difference.
3- In a bowl, cover the olives with boiling water for 10 min. The reason why it’s done is because some industrially packed olives contain a high level of sodium (and sometimes other things). This will reduce the saltiness.
Add all the ingredients into the cooking pot. Add water to cover 2/3 of the bird that you need to rotate during the cooking.
At this stage, there are two methods of making this dish:

1-      Top the chicken with water, let simmer and cook. Once tender, put the chicken on the side, dump the onions in the sauce and cook them until all juice has evaporated and they become more like a puree. You do get a silky onion gravy.

2-      Cook the chicken and the onions at the same time, and then fish the chicken once it becomes tender. Reduce the sauce and keep stirring until you get a silky onion gravy

For both methods, you need to fish the chicken which you roast under a grill from all sides (it will take you about 15- 20 min at 220 degrees C).
Grate the chicken liver with a fine/medium grater and add it to the onions. Add the hearth of the preserved lemon and the olives. Continue stirring until you get what we call in Morocco “deghmira”.
Indications for the quantities of water:
– For a whole chicken: add water to cover 2/3 of the bird.
– For a chicken cut into 4 to 6 pieces: cover the pieces just about halfway.
Garnishing and serving
Arrange the chicken in a serving dish and top with the deghmira. Garnish with olives and the skin of preserved lemon cut into strips.
Serve hot with Moroccan bread or a baguette.
In some areas of Morocco, fried potato chips are served on the side or literally topping the chicken with olives and preserved lemon.


Moroccan Slow-cooked tagine or stew: Quails with semi-confit of pears

— Recette en Français un peu plus bas —
Quails or chicken mqalli or mqualli with pears is a festive dish served in happy events but you can also just make it when you can get hold of fruity and sweet firm pears.

Serves 2 to 4 persons
Prep: 15 min – Cooking : 90 min 
The chicken mq’alli
  • 1 baby chicken or 2 quails, cleaned and brined at least 6 hours (in water, vinegar or lemon and sea salt) (can replace with lamb or veal meat)
  • 1 ½ medium-size red or yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of ginger powder
  • 1 tsp of turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp of white pepper powder (you may use black pepper)
  • A tiny bouquet of coriander/parsley (optional)
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • ½ tsp of saffron threads
  • 1 tsp of smen (aged and cured butter, optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp of caster sugar or honey
The pears
  • 750 g of medium-size pears (about 4 to 5), a bit firm
  •  40g of butter
  • 50 g of caster sugar
  • 1 cup of the chicken sauce (above)
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon powder
  • 2 tbsp of orange blossom water
To serve
  • Almonds, fried and crushed roughly or roasted sesame seeds
Follow me on to learn more about this wonderful dish that won’t fail to impress.
Watch me making it on my YouTube channel:

Look how lovely that sauce is..

Making the caramelized thick onion gravy-paste


Le Mqualli sucré aux poires
وصفة المقلي المغربي بالفواكه الموسمية: الإجاص أو التفاح  الأخضر الموسمي 

Visualisez la recette Ici sur ma chaine YouTube: