Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chicken lemon fennel tagine

Tagine is the name not only of a dish from Morocco it also the name of the cooking vessel that it is cooked in.  But you do not have to own a tagine to make a tagine.  I do actually have one, but I was cooking up in Whistler and surprisingly did not bring mine with me, so a cast iron pot worked just fine. My good friend Nancy had made and brought with her preserved lemons and ras el hanout. both essential ingredients for Moroccan food, obviously she came with a vision to be fulfilled.

You can buy ras el hanout, which is a mixture of spices.  I think that there are as many recipes for this spice mix as there are for garam masala.  I am not sure exactly what was in Nancy's mix but I found this recipe at and it contains all the spices that were in hers.

2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cardamon
2 teaspoons ground mace
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Or of course you could buy one pre made which would work just as well.

  • 1 whole chicken cut up or equivalent in pieces
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 preserved lemon, chopped or you could also use a fresh one.
  • 1 cup of black and green olives, stoned
  • handful of chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups of chicken stock

Put your chicken pieces into a large bowl, massage them with the spice rub, cover and put into the fridge to marinate for a couple of hours or, even better, overnight.

When you're ready to cook, heat the olive oil in a tagine or casserole-type pan and fry the chicken pieces over a medium to high heat, skin side down first, for about 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the pot and set aside.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan until transparent then add the fennel and stir well and fry for a couple more minutes.

Add the chicken, olives, and lemon. Pour in the stock,

give everything a good stir, then cover with a lid or foil and simmer on low heat for 1 hour, or until the meat starts to fall away from the bone. Halfway through, check and give it a good stir and add the cilantro. Keep an eye on it and add some water if it looks dry.

Taste for seasoning and serve.

This would taste very good made with fresh lemon, but different.  Making preserved lemons is not difficult, you just have to make them a few weeks ahead of using, and you can buy them in jars all the way from Morocco!

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