Friday, August 22, 2014

Quick Chicken Tagine with Vegetables, Olives and Preserved Lemons

I finally gave in to my temptation and bought a tagine pot. I had been wanting one since forever now. Well, that tagine pot sat on my kitchen counter tempting me to cook something in it for a few days. But, we were travelling and I had to wait. Well, yesterday was the day I finally had everything that I needed and I just started. Like someone had suggested....... make the cooking pot your canavas and just go about with things
- the end result will always be good if you make something with love, passion and a lot of confidence. So - with that thing in mind I whipped up this quick stuff. Do not know if its authentic or no - but, we loved it and thats all that matters in the end.


For Marination

8 chicken drumsticks or 6 chicken thighs (I used it with the bone and skin on)
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil

For the Tagine

2 onions - roughly chopped
2 carrots - roughly chopped in chunks
2 bell peppers (I used red ones) - roughly cubed
4 potatoes - skins removed and cut in quarters
10 cloves of garlic - grated
1/2 inch ginger piece - grated
1/2 Preserved Lemons - chopped fine
10 black olives - halved
10 green olives - halved
6 pimentos - finely chopped
        I got the olives and pimentos (they were brined) at the olive bar at Wholefoods (a grocery store)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon saffron strands
           if you do not wish to use saffron - substitute with 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and 2 to 5 strands of saffron
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (add more or less as per preference)
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
salt if needed (I did not add any salt - as the olives and the preserved lemon had enough salt)


Get the tagine pot ready by reading the instructions provided. I had to soak my clay pot in water for 5 hours before I could use it.
Marinate the chicken drumsticks (or thighs) using all the ingredients under the 'For Marination' tab and let it sit for atleast 1 hour. I left it in the refrigerator overnight. 
Heat a frying pan and once its nice and hot sear the chicken drumsticks/thighs on both sides to get the meat brown. You do not need to cook the chicken, just get a nice sear on the outer layer.

Seared Chicken Drumsticks
In the same frying pan, add the 1/2 tablespoon oil. When it gets nice and hot add the chopped onions and saute them till they get a nice golden brown. Then add the garlic and ginger and saute till the raw smell goes away. Add the chopped carrots, chopped bell pepper and the quartered potatoes and mix well. Lower the flame. Make a paste of the saffron, chilli powder and coriander powder with the 1 cup water and add it to the vegetables. Add the chopped parsley and chopped cilantro (keep about 1 tablespoon of each aside for garnish later). Mix well. Get the frying pan off the heat and keep it aside. Its now time to assemble everything into the tagine pot.

Sauteed Vegetables
Chopped Olives, Pimentos and Preserved Lemons
I used a heat diffuser to get the tagine evenly heated and to avoid any direct contact with the heat. Its a delicate piece of equipment (the tagine) and I did not want any cracks on it.
In the tagine pot add 1/2 tablespoon oil and then add the sauteed vegetables. Arrange the chicken evenly over the vegetables. Over this add the chopped olives, pimentos and the preserved lemons.

Arranged in the tagine pot
Cover it with the conical shaped tagine cover. Lower the heat to a medium low. Cook it this way for an hour. The aromas will be like heaven, but do not open the cover. Let it cook on its own in those juices.

The Chicken Tagine being cooked over medium low heat with the use of a diffuser under the tagine pot.
After an hour, open very carefully, the cover will be hot. Check the meat for doneness. If its still a bit undone, cover and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve the cooked dish over a bed of couscous or some Pita Bread along with a simple Salad.

The final product
It is not really necessary to own a tagine pot to cook tagines. You can do this slow cooking even in a crock-pot or a dutch oven.

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