Aziz the tagine

I first discovered this recipe last year when my mum gave me six jars of preserved lemons. I had no idea what to do with them, and mid-way through my search remembered the recipe for this traditional North African dish in the pamphlet that came along with our tagine.  There are many different variations– supposedly (as I have never been) in Algeria it is made without the lemons, and in Morocco it HAS the lemons. I’m sure there are other regional variations that I haven’t heard of.

I’ve long since lost the recipe pamphlet, making this more from memory and a bit of haphazardry (which is how I seem to cook most of the time anyway). Here are the basics:

(By the way, in case you were thinking about getting a tagine, then thought that you’d probably never use it, or that it’s too expensive, for the record, our tagine is one of the best things I’ve ever bought. In fact, it’s so loved that we’ve even given it a name. Aziz. Aziz the tagine. So affectionate are we about this strange piece of cookware, that we are thinking of making him our first family heirloom– one that will be passed on to children and grandchildren, collecting more and more stories as the generations go on, producing more and more delicious dishes the more history he gathers. Not just restricted to Moroccan food, I use it for anything that requires a dutch oven, or a roasting pan of any kind. And it’s so beautiful that it can be taken straight to the table and served on a heat-proof mat with plenty of ‘don’t touch’ warnings.)

Moroccan Chicken and Olive Tagine:

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp olive oil/ cooking fat

2 pinches saffron

11/2 tsp paprika

1 1/2 inches fresh ginger

1 tsp turmeric

2 pinches cinnamon

1 chicken, in portions

3 preserved lemon wedges

1/2 cup water or chicken stock

1/2 bunch of parsley

1/2 bunch cilantro

1 1/2 cups olives

On a low heat, simmer the onions and garlic until translucent. Add the chicken, sear on all sides, briefly, then remove and put on a plate for a minute. Get all of the seasonings together in one dish, and throw into the pan. Allow to fry for approx. 20 seconds, then pour in either stock or water. Add chicken back to pan.

Add the parsley and cilantro. Chop up the preserved lemons, and add to the tagine as well.

Preheat oven to 450.

Cover and cook for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, remove lid, sprinkle olives over the top, place in oven for 10 minutes.

Remove, sprinkle with chopped parsley and cilantro, and serve with crusty bread and butter.

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