Introduction: Chicken and Carrot Tagine
Demonstartes how to make a North African dish called Tagine. This one is made with chicken and carrots.
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Step 1: Get All Your Stuff in the Kitchen
You'll need a bunch of ingrediants:
4 Chicken breasts
2 onions chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
? tsp saffron threads (just grab some between your thumb and index finger and sprinkle it on, that should be enough, add to taste-this stuff's expensive)
1 cinnamon stick
1 clove garlic chopped
black pepper to taste
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
2 lb carrots peeled & thickly sliced
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp honey
squeeze of lemon juice
Step 2: Chop Everything
First cut the tops and bottoms off the onions and peel off the first couple layers. Then take the skin off the garlic. Get out the parsely and cilantro. Chop everything, just don't go crazy- it doesn't need to get too small.
Cut the chicken in half.
the recipie calls for 4 chicken breasts, but I only had 2. I like to use baby-cut carrots instead of cutting normal ones, it's just faster. Also I used cilantro flakes instead of the fresh stuff because the store around here is always out. Really you can substitute the onions, garlic, parsely, cilantro, and sticks of cinnamon with flakes and powder, I've done that while camping and the taste is about the same. I've also used lamb instead of chicken and it turned out very well, though a bit greasier.
Step 3: Start Cookin and Enjoy Your Meal
Place the chicken, garlic, ginger, pepper, salt, saffron, olive oil, and half the onions in the bottom of the tagine and mix thoroughly. Add 1/2 a cup of water and set on low heat on the stove or 250 F in the oven. Bring to a boil and slow simmer for 30 minutes.
Put in the remaining onion, carrots, 3 tbsp each of the parsley and cilantro, and then the honey.
Stir and continue simmering uncovered for 60 minutes more until the liquid is reduced to a thick sauce. Stir in a generous squeeze of lemon juice.
If you forget to wait to put things in after the 1/2 hour, it's not a disaster, it'll turn out alright, I usually only wait to put in half the carrots, the cinnamon and honey. The recipe says to use only 1/2 a cup of water but sometimes that isn't enough to keep the chicken moist, experiment and use your judgement.
This is not a quick meal, with preparation it takes about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. I start it on a medium setting to boil and then a low setting to simmer. The higher heat the faster it cooks and the drier the chicken gets, in hurry or too high a heat you can cook this in about half an hour, but that really detracts from the flavor.
Don't forget a squeeze of lemon before serving, lemon juice from the store works just as well.
Stick the whole thing, juice and all, into a deep platter or tagine if you've got one. It is best eaten from a common dish with the hands and bread, any thick bread will do- flat bread is great but restaurant style pita bread(without the pocket)is usually easier to get.
Another good thing to make with this is couscous. You can usually find it in grocery stores floating around the rice, pasta, or international foods sections. It only takes about 10 minutes to make but can be pretty bland. To help that I make it with chicken broth and put in a little olive oil. If you use the chicken flavored bullion cubes to make broth, try to crush the cube and stick in the pot with water before you start cooking the tagine, that gives it time to dissolve before you need to start the couscous. To make it a fun meal arrange the couscous around the edge of the tagine when serving and to eat take some of the tagine and the couscous and make a ball in the palm of your hand. It's tricky to do with one hand and pretty messy but it makes for a wonderfully social meal.
To follow up your meal try Moroccan Mint Tea. While not quite authentic you can make a reasonably similar tea here in the US. All you need is some green tea, some mint (spearmint flakes can usually be found with spices at the grocery store) and sugar. To avoid having tea and mint leaves floating around you can make your own tea bag, I know these exist but I can never find them so I make my own with a coffee filter and some string. For a normal tea kettle, empty two individual tea bags into the coffee filter and put in as much mint as you can bare to part with at one time, a couple tablespoons worth. close it up the the string. Bring the water to a rolling boil then remove from heat. stick your coffee filter tea bag into the kettle and then pour some of the water into a cup and pour the cup back into the kettle, do this until you get a honey-colored tea. If you're diabetic stop here, some people like it this way, but not me. To start the sugar throw in about 4 or 5 spoonfulls. mix it as before and taste, add sugar to your taste, it'll be the sweetest tea you've probably ever had, almost sickly sweet but not quite. With the sugar it will turn a darker bourbon color, hence the name Berber whiskey. Serve it as hot as you can, in tea glasses (not teacups) if you've got them, or can borrow some from your grandmother, they're about twice the size of a shotglass. The more slurping sounds created the more the host knows it's being enjoyed. If you're the host only fill glasses partially full, this tells your guests that refills are welcome and so are they. When a glass is empty fill it back up, if left with some tea remaining, this shows your guest has had enough. If you're drinking this as a sort of desert for your meal consider having dark chocolate with the tea. I doubt anyone in Morocco would do this but I enjoy having a piece of dark chocolate with mint while I drink my tea, it only adds to the spearmint flavor and the bitterness of the chocolate kind of mellows out the sweetness of the tea.