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Frieze London 2020

Claudia Roden’s Sociable Take On A Tagine

‘Having people around and making dinner is what gives me the most pleasure’

BY Claudia Roden in Frieze London , Frieze Week Magazine | 02 OCT 20

I was self-isolating during lockdown but, as soon as the weather allowed, I had visitors to my garden – first one or two people, then in little groups. My guests sit together at ‘household’ tables while I sit apart. On special occasions, we hang bunting and fairy lights. Having people around and making dinner is what gives me the most pleasure, and it’s my way of perfecting recipes for a new book I’m working on. There can be ten of us at our regular family get-togethers, so what I cook on these occasions has to be very easy. One of the dishes I often make is inspired by a Moroccan tagine. It’s very saucy and can be served with couscous, rice or mashed potatoes. I love the sharp, lemony flavours and the enticing aroma of mingled garlic, turmeric and ginger. These are the same smells that waft over the nightly food stalls in Djemaa el-Fna – the great square in Marrakesh which, during the day, is taken over by Berber musicians, storytellers, comedians, fire eaters and snake charmers. 


Juice of 2 lemons

6 tbs olive oil

1 ½ tsp ground turmeric 

1 ½ tsp ground ginger

1 ½ tbs honey

250 ml dry white wine

Salt and pepper 

1 head of garlic, cloves crushed

16 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on

120 g capers, squeezed of their juices

200 g pitted green olives 

25 g coriander, chopped

1 large or 2 small unwaxed lemons for boiling 


To make the boiled lemons, place the whole unwaxed lemons in a pan and cover with water.

Put a small pan lid directly on top of the lemons to hold them down as they float and boil for about 30 minutes or until they are very soft when you press them.

If you don’t use the lemons right away, drain them and, when cool, pack them tightly into a jar and cover with olive or sunflower oil.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

In a large bowl, mix the lemon juice, olive oil, turmeric, ginger, honey, wine, salt and pepper, beating well.

Add the garlic and chicken thighs, turning them several times in the mixture until they are completely coated.

Add the boiled lemon pieces, capers and olives to the bowl and mix well.

Arrange the chicken thighs on a large oven tray and pour over the contents of the bowl.

Bake for 60 minutes, or until the chicken pieces are well browned and cooked through.

Serve sprinkled with coriander.

Main Image: Claudia Roden by Marion Kadi