Ben’s snapper tagine with preserved lime and chickpeas


  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 4 coriander roots, plus leaves to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup (250ml) chenin blanc or other dry white wine
  • 1 preserved lime or 1/2 preserved lemon, flesh discarded, skin finely chopped
  • 2 plate-sized pink snapper, cleaned
  • 400g canned chickpeas, drained


  • 1

    Cover the saffron threads with 2 tablespoons of boiling water and soak for 10 minutes.

  • 2

    Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a frypan over medium-high heat. Fry the onion for 5-6 minutes, stirring, until browned and crisp, then set aside to drain on paper towel.

  • 3

    Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, coriander roots, cumin and ginger with a little salt to a fine paste. Combine in a bowl with undrained saffron, tomato, lime juice, wine and preserved lime or lemon. Pour this over your fish and allow to marinate for 10 minutes. In a flameproof tagine or large, deep, heavy-based frypan, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-low heat. Add fish, marinade and chickpeas.

  • 4

    Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and reduce heat to low. Cook for 10-15 minutes, occasionally spooning the sauce over the fish, until the fish are cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the fried onion and coriander leaves.



Preserved lemons and limes are available from Middle Eastern and gourmet food shops.