A Little Moroccan Magic – Chicken Tagine

by Amanda McInerney on 03/12/2012

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to travel a little over the last few years.  As we bid farewell to school fees (one more year, but who’s counting),  school books, uniform costs, dependent offspring and their associated expenses, both The Husband and I hope to be able to do include quite a bit more of it in our future.  If I assume we won’t be winning the lottery any time soon, I don’t suppose I’ll ever get to all the places I want to see, but I intend to prioritise and Morocco is going to be very high on that list.

I have long had a passion for the flavours of Moroccan and Middle Eastern food, neither of which is a cuisine commonly found locally to me.  Thanks to some excellent sources of supply for the requisite spices, I like to think I do a pretty fair job of preparing my favourite dishes at home, but I long for the opportunity to lie around on some sort of cushioned arrangement, in a gloriously tiled courtyard, wearing something loose, drapey and flattering, listening to the gentle splash of a small fountain, while sipping freshly made, sweet mint tea and enjoying authentic Moroccan food.  As you can probably tell, I’ve got the complete fantasy worked out -  the whole lying around aspect is very attractive to this lazy woman.

Moroccan food is not difficult to make if you have the right spices – and they are readily available these days.  Try to avoid buying the supermarket spices if you can – their flavours are often not really very good.  I buy mine online or at gourmet stores and it is well worth the small extra expense.  This delicious chicken tagine, served with steaming piles of golden couscous, is quite simple to make and so wonderfully fragrant that you will be very impressed with yourself – even my ungrateful teens enjoyed this meal and took the leftovers to school the next day for lunch.

One tip for the couscous – the boxed stuff is pretty ordinary, but will absorb surprising amounts of liquid and will reward you handsomely if you spend a little more time over it.  Traditionally couscous is steamed three times (being rubbed between each stage) over the cooking stew and, in reality, that’s easily enough done if you have the right equipment.  But if not, try this method.  Place 2 cups of couscous in a wide, shallow dish with an equivalent amount of very hot (or boiling) stock, give it a stir with a fork, then cover for 5-10 minutes.  Remove cover, melt 100 gms of butter,  pour it over the couscous then, with clean (or gloved) hands, gently rub the couscous through your fingers to separate it, making sure the butter is distributed evenly.  Cover again for 5 minutes, then fluff up with a fork (or fingers) before serving.

Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potato, Prunes & Orange
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Moroccan
Serves: 6

Ingredients
  • 700 gms chicken thighs (on the bone if possible)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into large cubes
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbs Ras el Hanout
  • 50 gms butter
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 1 litre chicken or veg stock
  • 1 can chick peas, drained
  • ¾ cup prunes, stones removed
  • zest of 1 orange, cut into strips
  • orange blossom water
  • ¼ cup flaked almonds

Instructions
  1. Melt butter and oil together in a heavy based saucepan over moderate heat. Add Ras el Hanout and cook gently for a minute or two, until fragrant.
  2. Add chicken to spiced oil and brown quickly. Set aside.
  3. Add onions to spiced oil and cook over moderate heat until softened and golden.
  4. Return chicken to pot, add the sweet potato and stock to cover, stir to combine. Cover, bring to boil, then turn heat down to a slow simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Add chick peas and prunes and simmer for 10 minutes more, then stir in orange zest and simmer a further 5 minutes.
  6. Serve on couscous, drizzling with a splash of orange blossom water and sprinkled with almonds.

 

 

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella December 3, 2012 at 6:31 pm

That’s how I make couscous, it seems to work well. I’d love to visit Morocco one day too :)

Ann December 4, 2012 at 9:47 am

Those buckets of ground spices look amazing and you paint a gorgeous visual in my imagination. I am planning on making this recipe but I really don’t want to go out and purchase orange water. I am just going to use orange juice. Hope you don’t mind Amanda ;)

Eha December 4, 2012 at 12:28 pm

I just love your fantasy: you and I could easily share thoughts and come up with quite similar dreams :) ! Love your recipe and have actually bookmarked! I buy most spices and spice mixes on line, and, if you do your homework, they are not necessarily pricier + they taste REAL!!

InTolerant Chef December 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Love the fantasy! Very lovely indeed :)
I use quinoa instead of cous cous, but my daughter just loves the ‘real’deal, and it certainly is very tasty is you just put a bit of effort in, isn’t it?
Prunes and fruits are so lovely in tagines, what a great mix of ingredients you used indeed :)

Kate December 5, 2012 at 8:53 pm

I too would love to see Morocco and stay in one of those fabulous riads !! The spice market would be incredible !!

Celia December 6, 2012 at 5:18 am

Ha! You wouldn’t know how to be lazy if you tried! ;-) Love the dish – chick peas, sweet potato, chicken and Moroccan spices – all flavours I love. And that photo of all the painted tagines made me moan out loud!

Hotly Spiced December 6, 2012 at 6:18 am

Ahhh yes, the dreaded school fees. They can certainly strip away at your holiday funds. We now have a four-year break before our youngest starts high school and those massive fees kick in again. We’re looking forward to these years being a period of recovery from getting the teenagers through high school. And hopefully ‘recovery’ will include some travel xx

cityhippyfarmgirl December 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm

ahhhh….yes, I can just see that beautiful morroccan image.

Rim December 10, 2012 at 7:58 am

Ladies, ladies, I am Moroccan and let me tell you that THAT fantasy is indeed very reasonable and quite attainable once you get there :) That is what most stay-at-home mums would do at least once a day after the kids go to school and before getting dinner ready…yes because food is very big in my culture and our days, activities, etc. are pretty much planned around each meal… I think EVERY woman deserves a lil’-mint-me-time :) Oh and yes in a swishy-swashy-caftan

Amanda McInerney December 10, 2012 at 9:28 am

Hi Rim – thanks for taking the time to comment and for confirming the possibility of my delicious fantasy. I’m even more determined to make it a reality now!

Adam Easterbrook December 12, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Do you have any opinion whether a Tagine makes any sort of flavour difference compared to a quality cast pot with a lid that allows condensing vapours to drip back into the food?

Thanks

Adam

Amanda McInerney December 12, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Sorry Adam – I can’t really offer any opinion. I don’t have a tagine (too many kitchen toys, not enough room), just use my Le Crueset cookware.

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