Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Chicken Tagine With Pea Pulao

Chicken tagine with pea pulao
Chicken tagine with pea pulao and cucumber salad
Although I bought a tagine about two years ago, I had never used it. But with both boys home at the moment and New Year's celebratory feel very much in the air, I made chicken tagine today. And to go with it I preferred to team it with rice. I don't mind couscous but that's not the case with the rest of my family. The concept of cooking with minimal liquid rose out of necessity in areas where water supply is limited. The cone-shaped lid traps steam and and the condensed liquid falls back to the pot. According to Wiki, a tagine is a North African Berber dish which is named after the earthernware pot in which it is cooked. It is also called a Maraq/marqa in North Africa and the Middle East.

Since I used the tagine for the first time, I soaked it in water for several hours. The browning of the meat and the onions were done in another pot as I was a little wary of using it. But now that it's been used, I can do my entire cooking from start to finish without changing pots!:)
Clockwise, from top:The tagine, Ras-el-hanout, preserved lemons, chopped pumpkin.

I made a mix of Ras-el-hanout by adding a mix of paprika, ground pepper, cumin and coriander powder, all spice and cinnamon powder. I also used a teaspoon of chopped preserved lemon peel. This is the first time I am using preserved lemons which I bottled in salt and lemon juice about 6 weeks ago. I also added some peppercorns, cloves and a star anise to the lemons. Fragrant indeed!

Ingredients:
550 grams chicken cut into regular pieces (I used local chicken)
3 onions, peeled and diced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed and diced
1" piece ginger, peeled and ground
2 tomatoes, blanched, peeled and sliced
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs ras-el-hanout spice mix
A pinch of saffron
10 apricots, soaked in warm water
A handful of blanched and toasted almonds
About 2 cups of peeled and chopped pumpkin
A large bunch of chopped coriander leaves

50 minutes of cooking and this is what it looked like
 Method:
Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and brown the meat in batches.
Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
In the same oil, brown the onions and add the garlic and ginger. 
Fry for a few minutes till the onions turn pale.
Transfer contents to the tagine and put it on a low flame on the stove.
After five minutes, add 2 cups of hot water, give it a good stir and close the lid.
Cook for about 15 minutes then add the spices along with the saffron and the tomatoes.
Let it simmer away for about 45 minutes and then add the chopped pumpkin and the soaked apricots along with the water. 
Cook till the meat is tender and the pumpkin is soft.
Switch off the flame and scatter the chopped coriander leaves and the toasted almonds on top.
Cooking on a low flame it took almost two hours for the dish to be ready but it was well worth the effort.
Mattar pulao went very well with the chicken tagine



I loved the addition of the preserved lemon. The tang was balanced by the sweetness of the apricots. I should be moving away from curry more often and should be exploring more cuisines of the world!:)
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