Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Wield the Power of Pickled Lemon Seasoning Cautiously

Making pickled lemons or Msir adds a unique flavor to meals but careful, just a small amount of the North African pickled lemon seasoning is needed.

Fresh lemons are washed, sliced, covered in salt for at least 24 hours, then drained and mixed with spices to cook in Tagines. Unlocking the enchanting flavors of Msir is an effortless journey that unveils a world of culinary wonders. With its tangy zest, this magical pickled lemon seasoning infuses meals with an unrivaled uniqueness that dances on the taste buds. But, ah, beware! Like a potent elixir, merely a whisper of this mystical condiment can unleash a symphony of flavors, elevating your dishes to celestial heights. So, wield its power cautiously, for a single lemon slice is key to unlocking an entire universe of taste sensations.

Pickled lemons use for seasoning food

Msir North African Pickled Lemon Seasoning


1/2 cup sea salt

4 large lemons




Cut four slits on equal sides into the lemons, but do not slice all the way through. Pack the sea salt into the lemon segments and pack the lemons as tightly as possible into a quart-size mason jar. Store the jar in a cool, dark place at room temperature. Over time, the lemons will begin to release their juices, creating a brine that pickles the fruit. Allow the lemons to pickle for four weeks to 8 weeks; that way, the rinds have softened, and the lemon flavors have melded.

The cone-shaped lid of the tagine traps steam and returns the condensed liquid to the pot

Preserved pickled lemons are not only pretty to look at but also make an awesome food dish. 

To use your preserved lemon, rinse them under cold water to remove the excess salt, then chop them up in your favorite recipes, such as rice and chicken, and there you have the perfect meal. 

Preserved lemon has an intense and salty taste, so you will not need to add salt to your recipes. 

One of our favorite ways to use preserved lemons is to make a salad dressing; all you need to do is chop pieces of your homemade preserved lemons into a pre-made salad dressing, and there you have it. You can also sprinkle preserved lemon on grilled fish or meat. 

On the other hand, maybe you prefer vegetarian dishes. In that case, take your favorite pre-packaged hummus recipe and mix in half a tablespoon of preserved lemon and watch a completely new flavor dimension open up.  

Do you want to keep it simple, then add chopped preserved lemon sautéed in olive oil with garlic and top with on your favorite pasta. Our favorite way to use preserved lemon is in Moroccan chicken tagine. This is certainly one of the best-known dishes that use preserved lemons. Here is our recipe below for the best chicken tagine with preserved lemons:

Chicken Tagine with Pickled Preserved Lemons


1/2 or 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces and skin removed

4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4" thick planks

4 large potatoes, cut into 1/2" slices or wedges

1 large onion, sliced into thick rings

1 small or medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled (optional)

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup water

Small bunch of coriander tied

A handful of red or green olives rinsed

1/2 of a preserved lemon, cut into quarters, and seeds removed


Pour enough of the olive oil into the tagine to coat the bottom. Layer the onion rings across the bottom of the tagine, and arrange the carrots on top of the onions. Add the chicken to the center of the tagine, and place the coriander on top. Arrange the potatoes around the chicken, and then distribute the chopped onions, garlic, and spices over everything. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the chicken and potatoes. Add the water to the tagine, and place over medium heat.

Use a diffuser if you like, but a traditional tagine should be safe on a burner as long as the heat is kept low. Cover the tagine, and bring the dish to a simmer. (Be patient; it takes 10 minutes for the tagine to heat up to this point.) Adjust the heat to medium-low or low, occasionally checking to ensure you can still hear the tagine simmering. Tagine is done when potatoes are fork-tender, about 10 minutes. You can use a stew pot instead of a tagine; just add an extra 1 cup of broth to the recipe. Serve over cooked rice or couscous.

Did you know? 
African countries to which lemons are exported are Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia; around 75% of the lemons grown are locally consumed. Lemons are a fruit best known for its sour taste, and it is used in various cuisines and desserts worldwide. 

The juice of a lemon is about 6% citric acid, which gives it a sour taste; the distinctive sour taste of lemon juice makes it a key ingredient in drinks and food lemons contain high amounts of calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, and potassium. It also contains small amounts of vitamin A and iron. 

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