• Three 3-pound chickens
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 3 large onions, grated on the large holes of a box grater or food processor
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups soft ripe olives
  • 1 preserved lemon, sliced

This recipe contains: Meat


Chicken Djaj M'Kalli

James Beard

Author and Educator

Start this Moroccan chicken dish the night before you plan to serve it. It’s even more delicious after the flavors have had a chance to meld.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


Remove all the fat from the chickens and rub them well with salt and 3 chopped garlic cloves. Let stand for 1 hour. Wipe off the salt. Rub chickens with a mixture of vegetable oil, ground ginger, turmeric, pepper, and saffron. Place them in a large bowl with any remaining oil mixture, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day put the chickens in a very large pot with onions, butter, remaining chopped garlic cloves, water, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered until the chickens are tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove chickens and rapidly boil down liquid to a thick rich sauce, stirring often. Add olives and preserved lemon. Carve chickens and return to simmering sauce to reheat. Serve over steamed couscous.