Chicken tagine with chickpeas is a great weekend dish because it needs time to cook slowly. It’s full of flavour, thanks to the ras el hanout (Moroccan spice) spice mix, cinnamon sticks, garlic, ginger and turmeric, combined with sweet dates and honey. If you like your tagine with heat, add some chilli – or perhaps serve some dried chilli flakes on the side. The dish works beautifully with goat or lamb shanks, too. As these cuts of meat are more fatty, you’ll need extra cooking time to ensure that they’re tender. You might like to try other root vegetables – swedes, potatoes or beetroots.
The word tagine refers to the cooking vessel, as well as the food that’s cooked inside. It’s typically a round clay dish with a fluted cone lid. The earliest written records of tagines appear in ‘One Thousand and One Nights,’ a collection of Arabic language folk-tales from the ninth century https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Thousand-and-One-Nights. They’re used in North Africa and the Middle East to cook meat, poultry and fish, with vegetables, fruit (often dried) and spices, with regional variations. The ingredients were traditionally packed into the tagine, and then cooked slowly over a smouldering charcoal fire. The conical lid traps steam, helping to keep the ingredients moist. However, if you don’t have a tagine, a casserole dish will suffice, a slow cooker, or even a ceramic baking dish tightly covered with foil.
Serve the tagine with couscous, rice, or warm pita bread, together with the leafy salad with preserved lemon and pomegranates. Here’s the salad recipe: https://atamandastable.com.au/leafy-salad-with-preserved-lemon-and-pomegranate/
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Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas
- 6 chicken thigh fillets, bone in, skin on
- 1 brown onion, peeled & chopped
- 2 carrots, thickly sliced
- 2 parsnips, thickly sliced
- 1 425 g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 tbsp fresh tumeric, peeled and grated
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 tbsp ras el hanout
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup Medjool dates, seeds removed
- 1/4 cup honey
- coriander leaves, to garnish
- 1 1/2 cups couscous
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160° C fan-forced).
- Sprinkle a little sea salt on each chicken thigh and then coat with the ras el hanout.
- Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in the casserole dish. Add the chicken thighs. If your dish isn't big enough to add them all at once, cook them in batches. Cook them until they're brown all over, remove from the dish and drain on baking paper.
- There should still be some oil (and some juices from the chicken) in the bottom of the dish. If there's not enough, add the remaining oil, then the chopped onions, garlic, ginger and tumeric. Cook until fragrant, then add the chopped carrots and parsnips and the drained chickpeas. Stir everything together.
- Add the cinnamon sticks, stock and water, then place the browned chicken thighs on top.
- Bring it to a boil, then put the lid on the casserole dish, and transfer it to the oven.
- Cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. By this time, the meat will be very tender.
- Remove from the oven, stir in the honey and the pitted dates and garnish with coriander leaves.
- Serve with couscous (prepared according to the packet instructions), rice or warmed pita bread.