For me personally the mere mention of the word Tajine stirs up visions of, exotic spice bazaars, veiled but scantily dressed belly dancers and tales of bedouin caravans making their way across the desert. Tajine however is not so much the specific name of the food but more a methodology of cooking using the famous steeped earthenware pot. The earliest writings on the Tajine come all the way back from the 9th century in the famous stories contained in the classic One thousand and One Nights collection.

Today we are going to cover a Traditional Moroccan Chicken recipe that with a little organisation and pre preparation can make for yourself at home. Special thanks to my friend Rony who kindly shared his recipe with me.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small chicken (1–1.2 kg)
  • 2 tomatoes, 1 sliced
  • 4 onions, 2 chopped, 2 sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1.5 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper (Comment: put more to rise hotness)
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 200 g dried apricots, halved
  • 1/2 bunch coriander, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 500 ml chicken stock (Comment: add more if it’s not enough to cover the chicken pieces in a pot)
  • 1 preserved lemon, rind only, rinsed and cut into 6 or 8 wedges
  • 100 g toasted flaked almonds (Comment: this is for garnish before served)

Chermoula marinade:

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 300 g mango chutney
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • ½ small red chilli
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 bay leaves, torn in half
  • ½ tsp saffron threads, soaked in a little water
  • 125 ml (½ cup) olive oil
  • salt

Method

  1. Take the tajine to the table, sprinkle toasted flaked almon
  2. Combine the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend until finely chopped and thoroughly combined. Leave for 30 minutes before using (or you can make this up to 2 or 3 days in advance and store it in the refrigerator).
  3. Wash and dry the chicken. Cut out the backbone and trim off the wing tips  You want to break the bird down to about 16 pieces. Place in a bowl and rub with half of the marinade. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. Cook 2 chopped onions and 3 cloves of minced garlic in a pot with olive oil until golden brown and add the marinated chicken pieces. Add chicken stock until chicken pieces fully covered. Cook for 45-50 minutes.
  5. Layer the rest of ingredients on the base of a tajine. Firstly sliced onions then sliced tomatoes then spread turmeric, cayenne pepper and ground cinnamon over. Spread some marinade over the onion and tomato layers (this will prevent the chicken from burning on the base). Arrange the pre-cooked chicken pieces in the centre of the tajine. Coat the potato wedges in a little more marinade and arrange around the chicken. Top with the rest of sliced onion, then the sliced tomato, and push the apricots into the gaps. Combine the remaining marinade with the coriander, parsley and liquid from the pre-cook pot and pour over the top. Lastly fork the preserved lemon and spread it on the top.
  6. Cover the tajine with the lid and cook over a very low heat on the stove for 1 hour 15 minutes. Do not stir or lift the lid during cooking.
  7. Sprinkle toasted almonds over the meal.
  8. Serve with Israeli couscous and Lebanese cucumber mint yoghurt.

Israeli couscous:

  • Follow instruction in the packaging.
  • Combine chopped tomatoes, cucumber, red onions, olive oil, parsley, salt, black pepper and sweet paprika in a mixing bowl.
  • Add cooked couscous into the mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly and cover bowl with aluminum foil before served.

Cucumber yoghurt:

  • Combine Greek yoghurt, thinly sliced seeded Lebanese cucumber, chop pepper mint leaves, salt and black pepper in a mixing bowl.
  • Refrigerate for 1 hr before served.
  • Sprinkle sweet paprika powder on top and add some pepper mint leaves on top for decoration.
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