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Of all the various fragrances and aromas that emanate from my kitchen, a North African-inspired blend of cumin and coriander would be one of my favourites.  Even though these spices have been a staple part of the family repertoire for many years, they still retain a sense of the exotic…and I also know that the girls love the flavours and dishes they inspire.
To feed the family, I’m usually a big fan of using cumin and coriander as a base for a well loved stove-top Moroccan lamb recipe with apricots – however, as I was hosting a small New Year get-together, I thought this would be the ideal opportunity to borrow my family’s tagine dish (or tajine if you’re wanting to get in touch with your Berber roots!) and try something a little different.  Moroccan Chicken Tagine combines gentle citrus and saffron flavours with green and black olives offering a welcome savoury note.  And the smell when you remove the lid of the tagine to serve is fantastic!

Moroccan Chicken Tagine
Serves 4
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
1 hr
  1. 1 x 3½-4 lb (1.5-2 kg) chicken, jointed into 8 pieces (or you could use a pack of 8 drumsticks and thighs)
  2. 4 oz (110 g) dried chickpeas
  3. 6 oz (175 g) brown basmati rice
  4. 1 level teaspoon cumin seeds
  5. 1 level tablespoon coriander seeds
  6. ½ level teaspoon saffron stamens
  7. 2 small thin-skinned lemons
  8. 2 large yellow peppers
  9. 2 large onions
  10. 2 carrots
  11. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  12. 1 oz (15 g) fresh coriander
  13. 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  14. 2 fresh chillies, halved, de-seeded and finely chopped
  15. 10 fl oz (275 ml) carton good chicken stock
  16. 5 fl oz (150 ml) dry white wine
  17. 2 oz (50 g) pitted black olives
  18. 2 oz (50 g) pitted green olives
  19. salt and freshly milled black pepper
  20. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).
  1. Place a small frying pan over direct medium heat, add the cumin and coriander seeds and toss them around in a hot pan for about 2-3 minutes or until they start to dance and change colour.
  2. Then remove the seeds to a pestle and mortar and crush them coarsely and transfer them to a plate.
  3. Next, crush the saffron stamens to a powder with the pestle and mortar, then squeeze out the juice of one of the lemons and add it to the saffron, stirring well.
  4. Then prepare the chicken by seasoning the joints with salt and pepper. Slice the peppers in half, remove the seeds and pith and cut each half into 4 large pieces.
  5. The onions should be sliced roughly the same size as the peppers.
  6. Now heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the flameproof casserole and, when it's really hot, brown the chicken pieces on all sides – don't overcrowd the pan; it's best to do it in 2 batches, 4 pieces at a time.
  7. After that, remove the chicken pieces to a plate, then add the second tablespoon of oil and turn the heat to its highest setting.
  8. When the oil is really hot, add the peppers, sliced carrots and onions and cook them in the hot oil, moving them around until their edges are slightly blackened – this should take about 5 minutes – then turn the heat down.
  9. Strip the coriander leaves from the stalks, wrap them in a piece of cling film and keep them in the fridge.
  10. Then chop the coriander stalks finely and add these to the peppers and onions, along with the garlic, chillies, crushed spices, and the chickpeas then give everything a good stir to distribute all the ingredients.
  11. Season well with salt and pepper, then combine the lemon and saffron mixture with the stock and wine, pour it all in to the casserole and stir well.
  12. Cut the remaining lemon into thin slices and push these well into the liquid.
  13. Now scatter the olives in and, finally, place the pieces of chicken on top of everything.
  14. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour.
  15. Then, just before serving, scatter the coriander leaves on top and serve straight away on warmed serving plates.
  1. You will also need a wide, shallow flameproof casserole with a domed lid, about 9 inches (23 cm) across the base. Failing that, use any flameproof casserole of 5 pint (3 litre) capacity.
Life On A Plate
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I'm based in Davon, South West England. Nutritional Therapist and photographer, Mum of three girls. Passionate about health, good food and family.

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