Quick Chicken Tagine with Prunes

I always laugh when I read articles that claim foods can give you a ‘taste of North Africa’, or a ‘taste of the Middle East’. For some reason whenever I hear food being described as such, I think of the taste of hot sand and dirt, of dirty hair and sweaty feet. Possibly because this is my personal experience of the beautiful hot places I have visited, where I pass around the sights like an anaemic tourist, parasol in one hand, camera in the other, ‘tasting’ the new experiences one water gulp at a time.
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As a stickler for English Tradition, of the important kind, in my own house. I can only imagine the belligerent attitude any Moroccan traditionalist must feel upon stumbling across this recipe. Apart from modestly calling it a Tagine, which it isn’t – because it was cooked in a pan,* I also served the dish with Rice, not the traditional Cous Cous.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly because we are now in an age of ‘fusion’ food, where no meal is now restricted by one origin. A marriage of ingredients and flavours from all over the globe are now celebrated when they come together on one plate – If Atul Kochhar can successfully turn a humble British classic, Chicken Pie, into an Indian Gymkhana then why not switch Cous Cous for Rice.
Secondly because I didn’t have any in the house and didn’t fancy getting out of my onesie and bopping down to the shop. You can serve it with Mash for all you like.
This really is one of the easiest and the tastiest quick Tagine/Curries to make – there is no Onion blending requirements like with most good Indian curries. It’s a YES Chef dish rejigged for us busy, lazy, foodies to enjoy an unauthentic but truly delicious dish that embodies only the most pleasurable and palatable ‘tastes of Morocco.’
*A Tagine refers to the clay earthenware most commonly used to cook such a dish in Morocco, not actually the dish.
So probably I should call this a curry… oh well. You get the idea.
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Ingredients
Serves 4
  • 4 skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 2 tbs Olive/ Coconut Oil
  • x1 400g tin of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chilli Flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 6 Spring Onions
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • 100g chopped Prunes
  • 1 teaspoon Honey
  • a handful of fresh Coriander Leaves, to serve

Method

Roughly chop the garlic and spring onions, set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add all the spices, accept the cumin and toast for a minute or two. Add the cumin, when it starts to pop add the chicken, garlic and spring onions to the pan.
Brown the chicken, for 5 minutes on each side, then add the chopped prunes and the tin of tomatoes and 100ml of water to the pan. Bring the tomatoes to the boil and simmer the chicken for 10-15minutes (depending in the size of the thighs)
Remove the chicken from the pan and leave to rest for 5-10 minutes, reduce the sauce for 5 minutes if it is a little watery.
Slice the chicken into strips and return to the pan, coat the slices of meat evenly in the sauce.
Serve with steamed rice, or cous cous (or with a dollop of tzatziki wrapped in coriander naan, for ultimate fusion satisfaction)
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