A few weeks ago, there I was with my list in my hand, ready to do Christmas shopping. Here I must confess; I am not the world’s most creative gift giver. I always have the best of intentions but my creativity lets me down. Over the years hubby has built up an impressive collection of socks thanks to me! But this Christmas it was going to be different. I had everything planned.
I felt like a rock star – zipping in and out of shops, knowing exactly what I was looking for. I smiled as I noticed people mulling about, wondering what to get their wives, husbands and kids. Not me! I had this down! But then, busy walking out of the mall, everything on the list crossed off and packages in hand, I noticed it. And it was beautiful!
I stood staring at it through the window for a while. WOW. I really liked it. MMMm, what is a person to do? Well, going inside just to take a closer look would do no harm, right? Of course not! So straight into the store I went. There was a moment of mild panic when I didn’t see any of it in the store itself. What would I do if there was only one left, being the one in the window? I just wanted to take a look! I might have broken out a small sweat on my brow, sweaty palms. And then I noticed it. There it was, standing on a table. Only two left. Phew! It was also at this stage that I had to admit that it was in fact love at first sight. There was no way I could turn my back on it!
The site of this suspense drama unfolded at the Poetry store in Somerset Mall, Somerset West. The suspect in question – a beautiful hand painted tagine. A thing of beauty. Hubby and I have often ogled tagines but have never come across the right one. They were either not nice enough, or just too expensive. This one was just perfect. So much so that the ladies in the store really had to convince me that it was in fact possible to cook in it and that it was not just a thing to be looked at. Of course there was nothing else to be done, apart from buying it!
Thank goodness they offered to wrap it for me. Turned out it was HUGE once wrapped and hubby was very curious when I carried this big, beautifully wrapped box inside the house after my shopping expedition. Needless to say, I am not one to buy things on impulse for myself, so it was only natural that Santa left the box under the tree for hubby!
A bit of chilly weather in Cape Town over the weekend provided us with the perfect opportunity for our first inaugural tagine! We love Moroccan flavours and have often made our Moroccan stews in the oven in normal ovenproof dishes. On Sunday we brought out our tagine and I could not wait to taste the end product. We make lamb most of the time but decided to make a lovely flavorsome chicken tagine for a change. (MMm, while I was writing the post the smell of Moroccan spices was permeating the air. Delicious!!)
So here it is, our first recipe made in a real tagine! The chicken was falling off the bone, so soft and tender. But it will be just as good in a normal dish in the oven. Try it, you’ll love it!
Moroccan chicken with chickpeas and apricots
- For the tagine:
- 1 kg chicken pieces (two pieces per person)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large red onions, cut in quarters
- 3 tbsp Moroccan spice (we used a pre-mix of spices, but you can use something like Ras-el-Hanout or make your own mix of spices using equal quantities of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, turmeric powder, ginger flakes, ground cinnamon, all spice and some dried chillies)
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 250 ml chicken stock
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 tsp honey
- 400g chickpeas
- 100g dried Turkish apricots
- 1 tsp salt
- 30g almond flakes
- Handful coriander, chopped
- 1 lemon
- For the couscous:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red pepper, finely chopped
- 1 yellow pepper, finely chopped
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 150g couscous
- 250ml of water
- 1 tbsp of butter
- Step 1 For the tagine:
- Step 2 Add the olive oil and chicken to a pan on high heat and fry until the chicken is golden brown on all sides (should take about 5 to 8 minutes).
- Step 3 Once the chicken is brown, add the chopped onions and fry for 3 minutes.
- Step 4 Now turn the plate to a low heat and add the spices, garlic and ginger and fry for another 3 minutes.
- Step 5 Turn the contents of the pan out into your tagine.
- Step 6 There should be some spices and crispy chicken bits stuck to the pan. This is perfect – don’t scratch that out.
- Step 7 Place the pan back on high heat. Next add the tomatoes, chicken stock, carrots, honey. Boil for 3 minutes and then add chickpeas, apricots and salt.
- Step 8 Stir in and let it boil for another minute.
- Step 9 Add the vegetables to the tagine as well and cover with the lid.
- Step 10 Turn your oven on to 160°C and place the tagine in the cold oven.
- Step 11 Bake in the oven for 1 hour 45 minutes.
- Step 12 Place the almond flakes in a pan over high heat and toast them until golden. (Keep an eye on them and toss them regularly to prevent them from burning.)
- Step 13 Once ready to serve, sprinkle over the coriander and squeeze over the juice of the lemon.
- Step 14 For the couscous (you can start about 30 minutes before serving):
- Step 15 On a high heat, add the olive oil and onions to a pan. Fry for 2 minutes.
- Step 16 Next add the peppers and fry for another 5 minutes.
- Step 17 Now add the water and butter to the pan. As soon as butter has melted, add the couscous and stir it in.
- Step 18 Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and let it rest until you are ready to serve.
PS: We made this on Sunday and on Monday I had some leftovers for work! It’s even more brilliant the next day!