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
- 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)
- 4 oz (110 g) dried chickpeas
- 6 oz (175 g) brown basmati rice
- 1 level teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 level tablespoon coriander seeds
- ½ level teaspoon saffron stamens
- 2 small thin-skinned lemons
- 2 large yellow peppers
- 2 large onions
- 2 carrots
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 oz (15 g) fresh coriander
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 fresh chillies, halved, de-seeded and finely chopped
- 10 fl oz (275 ml) carton good chicken stock
- 5 fl oz (150 ml) dry white wine
- 2 oz (50 g) pitted black olives
- 2 oz (50 g) pitted green olives
- salt and freshly milled black pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).
- 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.
- Then remove the seeds to a pestle and mortar and crush them coarsely and transfer them to a plate.
- 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.
- 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.
- The onions should be sliced roughly the same size as the peppers.
- 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.
- After that, remove the chicken pieces to a plate, then add the second tablespoon of oil and turn the heat to its highest setting.
- 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.
- Strip the coriander leaves from the stalks, wrap them in a piece of cling film and keep them in the fridge.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cut the remaining lemon into thin slices and push these well into the liquid.
- Now scatter the olives in and, finally, place the pieces of chicken on top of everything.
- Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour.
- Then, just before serving, scatter the coriander leaves on top and serve straight away on warmed serving plates.
- 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 https://www.lifeonaplate.co.uk/
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