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Spatchcocked chicken, m’qualli-style

James Whetlor

Barbecued chicken with vibrant Moroccan flavourings 

Recipe Meta


20 mins


1 hour






  • 1.5kg whole chicken, spatchcocked
  • A large sprig of coriander, finely chopped
  • 3 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Pulp of 1 preserved lemon, finely chopped (rind reserved, see below)

For the marinade

  • A generous pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

To serve

  • A small bunch of coriander, finely chopped
  • Rind of 1 preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 50g pitted green olives, roughly chopped
  • 200g couscous, cooked according to the packet instructions


Heat the barbecue to a medium heat. Place the chicken on a clean work surface, skin-side up and, using your palms, press down firmly on the breastbone to flatten the breast.

In a bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients, then rub this all over the chicken until thoroughly coated. Scatter over the coriander and set aside to come to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a lidded cast-iron pan, big enough to fit the chicken, heat 3 tbsp olive oil and cook the onions and garlic for 10 mins until soft. Add the spices and preserved lemon pulp and cook for 3-5 mins until golden and soft. Add 150ml water, bring to the boil, then take off the heat and set aside.

Brown the marinated chicken on the barbecue for 20 mins, turning it a couple of times to brown it evenly and brushing with a little extra oil.

Transfer the chicken to the pan and spoon over the sauce and onions. Place the pan on the barbecue over the heat, cover and cook for 20-30 mins, until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid has mostly reduced. Check the bottom of the pot every now and then to prevent any burning – add a splash of water if necessary.

Take the pan off the heat and set aside to rest for 10 mins. Lift out the chicken and divide into joints on the bone. Stir half the coriander, preserved lemon rind and olives into the sauce, then return the chicken to the pan. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste, then serve scattered with the remaining olives, preserved lemon and coriander, along with some couscous.

Image: Sam Folan

Recipe from The DIY BBQ Cookbook by James Whetlor (Quadrille)