Spicy chicken tagine with apricots, rosemary and ginger
This tagine is both fruity and spicy, and the rosemary and ginger give it a delightful aroma. It can also be made with chicken joints or pigeon breasts, pheasant or duck, and needs only Plain, Buttery Couscous and a leafy salad to accompany it.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil plus a knob of butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 fresh rosemary sprigs, 1 finely chopped, the other 2 cuts in half
- 40 g fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1–2 cinnamon sticks
- 8 chicken thighs
- 175 g ready-to-eat dried apricots
- 2 tablespoons clear, runny honey
- 400-g tin plum tomatoes with juice
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- leaves from a small bunch of fresh green or purple basil
- Plain, Buttery Couscous
Heat the oil and butter in a tagine or heavy-based casserole. Add the onion, chopped rosemary, ginger and chillies and sauté until the onion begins to soften.
Stir in the halved rosemary sprigs and the cinnamon sticks. Add the chicken thighs and brown them on both sides. Toss in the apricots with the honey, then stir in the plum tomatoes with their juice.
(Add a little water if necessary, to ensure there is enough liquid to cover the base of the tagine and submerge the apricots.) Bring the liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer gently for 35–40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Shred the larger basil leaves and leave the small ones intact. Sprinkle them over the chicken and serve with Plain, Buttery Couscous and a leafy salad, if liked.”
Chicken k’dra with chickpeas, raisins and red peppers
A Moroccan k’dra is a stew cooked in smen, the traditional fermented butter, in a large copper pot (a k’dra). The other feature of a k’dra is the large quantity of onions used in the dish. It is best served on its own with a little bread, and some wedges of lemon to squeeze over it.
- 1 chicken, about 1.5 kg, jointed into 6 pieces
- 175 g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in plenty of water and drained
- 6 onions, finely chopped”
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 pinches of saffron threads
- 1 teaspoon each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 red peppers
- 3–4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3–4 tablespoons raisins or sultanas
- 2 tablespoons ghee, smen (see page 11) or butter
- leaves from a bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- lemon wedges, to serve
- crusty bread, to serve
Put the chicken in a large heavy-based casserole. Add the chickpeas, 2 tablespoons of the chopped onion, cinnamon sticks and saffron and season with salt and pepper. Pour in enough water to cover the chicken and chickpeas by about 2.5 cm and bring to the boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 1 hour, checking the water level from time to time.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) Gas 4. Put the peppers in a baking dish and pour over the oil. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until tender and the skin has buckled slightly. Remove from the oven and leave until cool enough to handle. Peel the skin off the peppers, cut in half lengthways, remove the stalk and seeds and cut the flesh into strips. Set aside.
Check the chicken and chickpeas, both of which should be tender, and add the rest of the onions with the raisins, butter and half of the parsley. Cover and cook gently for a further 40 minutes, until the onions have almost formed a purée and there is very little liquid left in the casserole.
Arrange the chicken joints on a serving dish and spoon the chickpea mixture around them. Scatter the strips of pepper over the top and serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread or Plain, Buttery Couscous.
Chicken k’dra with turnips and chickpeas
Traditionally cooked in a large copper pot, k’dra dishes are often packed with plenty of vegetables and pulses to create a hearty, filling dish for a big family or a large gathering of people.
1 kg chicken thighs
1–2 tablespoons ground turmeric
2–3 tablespoons olive oil plus a knob of butter
2 onions, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2–3 teaspoons coriander seeds
225 g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in plenty of water and drained
450 g turnip flesh, cut into bite-sized pieces, or 8 baby turnips, halved
1 tablespoon ghee, melted (optional)
leaves from a bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
crusty bread, to serve
Trim the chicken thighs and rub them with the ground turmeric. Set aside.
Heat the oil and butter in a large copper pot, or heavy-based saucepan. Add the onions, garlic and coriander seeds and stir until they begin to colour.
Add the chicken thighs and brown lightly, then toss in the chickpeas and cover with 850 ml water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the chicken and chickpeas are tender.
Add the turnip and a little extra water if necessary and cook for a further 10–15 minutes, depending on the type of turnip, until cooked but still firm. Season to taste with salt and pepper, pour over the melted ghee, if using, and garnish with the chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread.
Tagine of duck breasts with dates, honey and orange flower water
This traditional Moorish dish appears in various guises throughout the Arab-influenced world. Poultry cooked with dates and honey is probably one of the most ancient culinary combinations and the finished dish is deliciously succulent. You can substitute the duck with chicken, pigeon or poussins, if you prefer.
- 25 g fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 2–3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2–3 tablespoons olive oil plus a knob of butter
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 duck breasts, on the bone
- 2–3 tablespoons clear, runny honey
- 225 g ready-to-eat stoned dates
- 1–2 tablespoons orange flower water
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2–3 tablespoons blanched almonds
- Plain, Buttery Couscous (see page 108) tossed with finely chopped preserved lemon (see page 11) and fresh green herbs, to serve
Using a mortar and pestle, pound the ginger and garlic to a paste. Heat the olive oil and butter in a tagine or heavy-based casserole, then stir in the ginger-garlic paste and the cinnamon sticks. Once the mixture begins to color, add the duck breasts and brown the skin.