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I won my pretty tagine dish in a Cookpad recipe competition last year but took my time to use it. I did occasionally take it out of the cupboard to admire, and puzzle at how impractical it was.
Deep base contradicts the very meaning of tajine – ‘shallow dish’. The lid seemed impossible to take off when hot as there’s no handle, indent or anything in its shape that would assist a safe grip. The magic it’s supposed to do, condensing the steam from the food and raining it back down, means that no steam escapes and if you add liquid to your chicken or lamb, as all available recipes suggest, you’re cooking soup. Those were my worried assumptions.
Sadly they proved completely right. My first tagine was soup and it was nearly inaccessible as I couldn’t get the lid off by stealth or force. Chicken tasted like boiled. Vegetables tasted like raw.
This is an adjusted recipe: do not be tempted to add more liquid unless you peeked in (well done, you) and saw it becoming too dry. And actually – just cook it in a shallow casserole dish.
chicken tagineServings: 4Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- 2 chicken breasts and 2 thighs, boneless with skin on
- salt and pepper
- groundnut oil, for frying
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 100g (3oz.) raisins
- 30g (1oz.) dried barberries or unsweetened blueberries
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp mild chili powder
- 2 tsp ras-el-hanout
- 1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
- 1 large red pepper, cored and diced
- 1 large aubergine, trimmed and diced
- 60ml (¼ cup) chicken stock
Cut the chicken pieces into halves or quarters, if very large. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Prepare a tagine dish or another ovenproof dish with lid.
Heat up 2 tbsp. of oil in a large frying pan or skillet. Brown the chicken pieces on all sides and remove onto a plate. Add a tablespoon of oil into the pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes until lightly coloured. Stir in the raisins and barberries.
Sprinkle all the spices and grated ginger over the onions and stir them in. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and toss them around to coat in spices. Transfer the chicken and onions to the tagine or oven dish and quickly fry the pepper and aubergine pieces in the same pan. Transfer them to the tagine dish, deglaze the pan with a little chicken stock and pour it over the chicken.
Cover with the lid and bake for 40—50 minutes. Serve sprinkled with fresh chopped coriander, with bread or couscous.