If in need of cheer and comfort with a chickeny stew or soup, why not hop on this magic carpet ride of uplifting flavours? This easy dish never fails to boost my mood, whether during a bleak winter's "gray" or a celebratory occasion. I mixed, matched and tweaked a combination of Moroccan recipes and relied on my nose's happy memories of a romantic holiday to Marrakesh, years ago. There is something magical about the combination of cinnamon, paprika, chicken and almonds. Best of all, it's pretty hands-free since your oven gently simmers the stew for you. Enjoy! —Jamie Pea
Tagine Spice Mix
sweet paprika powder
Chicken and Vegetable Tagine
chicken thighs, boneless with skin on (or use chicken breasts if you prefer), cut into meaty medium-sized chunks
(3 medium-sized) tomatoes
(1 medium-sized) cauliflower, cut into florets
zucchini, sliced vertically into 6 strips then cut into 5cm-long pieces
(3 large cloves) garlic, peeled and minced
ginger, peeled and minced
green olives in brine, each sliced horizontally into three “wheels” (or leave whole if you prefer)
preserved lemons, diced (if unavailable, can substitute 40g lemon juice and 40g green olive brine from the jar)
fresh coriander (cilantro), to serve
sliced almonds, lightly toasted
In This Recipe
Pre-heat your oven to 180*C, 360*F and set aside a Dutch oven (such as a Le Creuset) or tagine. If you don’t have either, you can also use a medium-sized 100% metal saucepan with a lid.
Toss the chicken with salt, pepper, and 2 Tbsp of the tagine spice mixture. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan until just before it smokes, then add the chicken skin-side-down (if any) to sear, about 2-3 minutes. Stir-fry until just-cooked on all sides then transfer with tongs to your Dutch oven/tagine/saucepan along with all the pan juices. Add the raw cauliflower, carrots and zucchini to the pot and toss it with the chicken.
Cover the pot of chicken and vegetables with its lid and put the pot on a low rack inside your preheated oven. Set your timer to 20 minutes, then prepare the tomatoes: slice from the tomatoes vertically from the “steam” area downwards, into six wedges, then remove the pulp from the middle of each wedge to get tomato “petals”.
When 20 minutes is up, carefully open the lid and add the raisins, tomatoes, olives and preserved lemons (or lemon juice & olive juice mixture). Cover the pot and set your timer for a further 20 minutes.
Voila: your bubbling, beautifully spiced tagine is ready to be topped with coriander and almonds, and served with couscous. This tagine be prepared one day ahead, chilled and and re-heated the following day for dinner party glory.
My favorite way to make couscous: pour 1 large mug dry couscous into a heat-proof salad bowl, then add 1 large mug of boiling-hot chicken stock (or boiling water). Cover immediately with a plate and let it rest for 3 minutes. Remove the cover, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and use a fork to fluff up and separate the grains (if you used hot water instead of stock, I would also add a hefty pinch of sea salt), then mix in some finely chopped cilantro or parsley.