Over the past years I discovered more and more of the North African cuisine for myself. The Food culture from countries such as Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria is actually quite common in Europe. I have witnessed a spur and a liking towards Tajines, Tabbouleh and the like. Especially, France is boasting with a fair amount of North African establishment and even local family celebrations follow the same. The cuisine was happily added to the french way of life and soon it was as common as Croissants and Baguettes. I grew up with the influence of North African food and I see myself fortunate for that. The cuisine is vibrant, addictive and unique in it’s ways. It reminds us of family and enjoying a meal together, of a comfortable home and a fiesta between friends.
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I remember, that my mum didn’t own a Tajine cooking ware for some time, it was added much later to our household, but Couscous and sweat spicy meat recipes with nuts and dried prunes were prepared anyway in a regular basis. Some of you out there might be wondering what Tajine means or what it is. Tajine or also Tagine, is a earthenware pot but also a particular dish that is slow cooked in the traditional cooking utensil. The pot consists of 2 parts, a flat base rounded at the corners where the dish cooks and a dome shaped cover that sits on the lower part while cooking. The specially shaped cover serves to circulate the condensation down in the cooking process. Here, pure physics is doing an excellent job cooking the meat extremely tender inside.
There are a couple of different Tajine types, in fact Moroccan and Tunisian Tajines are known to be two totally different dishes. Since i have little knowledge of the Tunisian Tajine, I ll focus more towards the Moroccan Tajine dish. I have tried Mutton Tajine, Veg Tajine and Chicken Tajine in the past. My favorite and most people’s choice is the chicken Tajine. You can further cook a Fish, prune or even orange Tajine. Some Fusion cooking even suggests Osso Buco style Tajine!
How to eat a Tajine correctly? A question we all ask ourselves…
To do it the traditional way, move the Tajine clay pot into the center of a lower table surrounded by small seats. The cover is removed and everyone around the table starts to directly dip with three fingers into the warm dish. The index finger holds a piece of flat bread and the thumb pushes the food onto the bread before eating it all. The other fingers shouldn’t touch the dish!
Some months back I had mentioned in the Moroccan Tea experience, that the people follow the traditional preparation of Moroccan dishes and beverages in detail. The way certain cooking is done, is thought through, involves techniques and all this benefits the quality of a dish. Old wisdoms were preserved over time and were passed over to the generations.
Today, I present you our Moroccan family connection’s chicken Tajine recipe that will tickle your taste buds and take your food experience on a other level. The flavor principles here are acquired with some of the typical North African ingredients such as Prunes, Almonds and pickled lemons and further with seasoning such as Paprika powder and Cinnamon. I say, everybody should try a Tajine once and even buy one of those clay pots, because they come quite handy for other food preparations as well.
- 1 Chicken - cut into 6 pieces
- Olive Oil
- 2 Big Onion - sliced
- 5 Garlic Cloves - chopped
- ½ Tsp Ginger - chopped
- 2 Tomatoes - quartered
- 350 g Potato - roughly diced
- 2 small Carrots - sliced
- 4 Salt Pickled Lemons - roughly sliced (if not available add 2 Tsp Lemon juice instead)
- 150 g Almonds
- Handful Green Peas
- 2 Bay leafs
- 150 g dried Prunes
- 150 g presoaked Raisins
- ½ Tsp Turmeric Powder
- ½ Tsp Cinnamon Powder
- pinch Salt
- pinch Pepper
- 1½ Tbs Honey
- Start by parting the Chicken into 6 pieces and rinse the meat. Prepare all the Vegetables as mentioned above and keep aside. Take out the pickled Lemons and slice them roughly, keep aside.
- Place the Chicken with some Olive oil in a frying pan and fry the meat for 2-3 minutes on one side first. Turn the Chicken pieces to the other side and cover the meat with Onion, Garlic and Ginger pieces. Continue to fry on slow heat for 5 minutes.
- Now add to the pan the Tomato pieces, Potato, Carrot and Pickled Lemons. Stir fry for a minute and leave it to cook for a further 5 minutes.
- In the meanwhile blanch the Almonds to get rid of the skin, if not presoaked over night.
- Back to the pan. Add in the Green Peas and Bay leafs, cook for an other 3 minutes on slow heat.
- Keep the Tajine dish at the side, it should be kept warm. Take out the Chicken pieces and place into the Tajine.
- Continue to cook the veggies in the pan and throw in the Prunes, Raisins, Almonds, Turmeric Powder, Cinnamon Powder, Salt and Pepper. Stir fry for a minute and cook for another 3 minutes.
- At this point, you have to take out all the pan content and shift it to the Tajine. Add in the Honey and mix it all well.
- Close the cover of the Tajine and let it cook on slow flame for at least 1 h 45 min. Open it in between once just to mix the content carefully again and close it back.
- Serve hot with Flat bread, Couscous or Rice.