Chicken Tagine – lovely.

5 Apr

DSCI0322I have only recently discovered the exotic flavours of tagines and I have absolutely fallen in love with them.  Previously I have made Lamb Tagines which are possibly more traditional but when I saw this recipe I decided to give it a go.  It tastes absolutely lovely, fragrant from the spices and preserved lemon but with a hint of sweetness from the dried fruit and the nutty flavour of the almonds. Wonderful!  The only change I made to the recipe was to limit the amount of orange peel to two small strips. I have had a few dishes that have included fresh orange and I have that it can overpower the dish completely and gives it a flavour I am not too keen on.  Of course if you love orange in food feel free to add more of the peel to your liking.

The recipe includes saffron, the most expensive spice in the world.  It is native to the Mediterranean area and most imported saffron comes from Spain. I always buy some when I am there as it is so much cheaper than in the UK.

The ancient Assyrians used saffron for medicinal purposes. The Greeks and Romans used it to perfume their luxurious baths. The bright orange-yellow color also made saffron useful as a dye.

Each saffron crocus flower has 3 stigmas, it takes about 80,000 flowers (240,000) stigmas to make a pound of saffron. It takes an experienced picker about 12 days to pick this many. By the time saffron gets to retail stores, its cost is £450 to £1500 per pound.

In 1444 any merchant caught selling adulterated saffron in Bavaria was burned alive.

Here is the recipe. Serve it with couscous or rice, or maybe even orzo.  It can be frozen but defrost well before reheating.

Chicken Tagine                                              Serves 4

  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • good pinch of saffron
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 6 skin on chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 inch piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 12 dates, pitted and halved if large
  • 2 small strips of orange peel
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 preserved lemon, rinsed well, flesh discarded and skin thinly sliced.
  1. Heat the coriander seeds in a dry pan until fragrant. Remove and grind.  Put the ground coriander, saffron, cinnamon and ginger in a bowl and mix well.  Rub the spice mix all over the chicken, put on a plate, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Heat the oil in a tagine or casserole over a medium heat. Add the onions, fresh ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick and 2 tbsp of the almonds with a good pinch of salt.  Fry until the onions are soft but not browned. Transfer to a plate.
  3. In the same pan, without washing it, add the marinated chicken, turn the heat up to high and sear the skin, turning as it browns. When golden brown all over return the onion mix and pour over enough water to just cover the chicken. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the dates, orange peel maple syrup and half the coriander. Simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes until the sauce is thick and syrupy.
  5. Serve the tagine on couscous or rice, sprinkled with the preserved lemon slices, coriander and remaining almonds.

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