I have always enjoyed the exotic flavours of Moroccan cooking, especially the way meat and spices are combined with the sweetness of fruit or the contrast of lemon or olives.
Some examples are veal and prunes, lamb and mango, beef with pickled lemons.
Tagine, a traditional cooking vessel, is made entirely of a natural clay, and sometimes painted or glazed. It has two parts: a base unit that is flat, circular and bowl like, with low sides and a large cone-shaped cover that sits on the base during cooking. The cover is designed to promote the return of all condensation back to the bottom. Placed over glowing coals to simmer along slowly, but just as successfully baked in an oven, or if your tagine is not oven-proof, used as a serving dish.
The contents of this vessel is also known as a tagine, a slow-cooked savoury stew, typically made with sliced meat, poultry or fish together with vegetables or fruit. Common spices include ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and saffron.
Tagines are traditionally served with couscous or bread, but taste just as delicious with rice.
Chicken Tagine with Honey, Dates and Almonds
1 kg (2.2 lbs) chicken thighs, deboned
30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
5 ml (1 tsp) cumin seeds
5 ml (1 tsp) ground coriander
5 ml (1 tsp) ground ginger
5 ml (1 tsp) ground turmeric
5 ml (1 tsp) ground cinnamon
21/2 ml (1/2 tsp) chili powder
11/4 ml (1/4 tsp) ground nutmeg
375 ml (11/2 cups) chicken stock
250 ml (1 cup) water
125 ml (1/2 cup) seedless dates, halved
65 ml (1/4 cup) honey
125 ml (1/2 cup) toasted almonds
1. Cut chicken into strips, heat 15 ml (1 tbsp) of oil in a saucepan and sear chicken in batches until browned. Set aside.
2. Heat remaining oil in the same pan and add the onions, garlic and spices. Cook while stirring until onions are soft.
3. Return chicken to the pan, add stock and water and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
4. Remove the lid and simmer for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked and mixture slightly thickened.
5. Stir in the dates, honey and almonds.
6. Serve with rice.