Monday, 17 January 2011

Spicy chicken tagine with apricots, rosemary and ginger

I love nothing better than pottering about the kitchen on Sunday afternoons cooking up a storm without having to keep one eye on the clock the entire time. Unfortunately, time wasn't on my side this Sunday night, but I was in luck, as this dish was ready in around half an hour--thanks to my trusty pressure cooker!

It's been a while since we've had Moroccan, and I really don't know why. This dish from Ghillie Basan's Tagines & Couscous: Delicious Recipes for Moroccan One-Pot Cooking ticks all the right boxes for me: sassy fresh ginger right in the fore; tart, fruity apricots taking up the rear; flavourful herbs and a slight chilli bite. It all adds up to a bold and lively dinner ready in almost no time.

This was the first Moroccan recipe I'd come across with rosemary as an ingredient, so I wondered if it was authentic. The jury is still out on that one--I've seen Moroccan sources say a very firm non to that, and others that say it is used in particular dishes. Perhaps it's a regional thing? One criticism I have of ethnic cuisine cookbooks written by by non-locals is that they often don't include the local-language name of the dish. Unfortunately, Tagines & Couscous falls into this category, so there is no way to check with other recipes for the same dish.

But that is a minor niggle, really. This tagine is truly superb and, authentic or otherwise, I will certainly not hold back with the rosemary next time! I used 1 tsp of freeze-dried rosemary, as I couldn't get fresh, but this dish could certainly stand up to more. I think 3 tsp would do the trick. I might also try grinding the ginger to a pulp with a Japanese oroshigane next time round for a different texture.

I've adjusted the original recipe for use in a pressure cooker. If using a tagine/tajine or regular pot, the the cooking time in the original recipe is 35-40 minutes, covered, at a gentle simmer.

Spicy chicken tagine with apricots, rosemary and ginger

2 tbsp olive oil plus a knob of butter
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tsp freeze-dried rosemary, 1 tsp chopped finely, the other 2 left whole
40 g fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
1/2 hot red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely (or to taste)
1-2 cinnamon sticks
4 chicken thighs
175 g whole dried apricots
1-2 tbsp honey
400 g tin plum tomatoes in juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
leaves from a small bunch of fresh basil

Serves 4

1 Heat the oil and butter in a medium sized pressure cooker. Add the onion, chopped rosemary, ginger and chilli and saute until the onion begins to soften.

2 Stir in the remaining rosemary and the cinnamon sticks. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add to the pot. Brown on both sides. Throw in the apricots and honey, then stir in the plum tomatoes and their juice. (Add a little water if necessary to ensure there is enough liquid to cover the base of the pressure cooker and submerge the apricots.) Seal the pressure cooker and bring to pressure. Turn down heat and cook under low pressure for 5-7 min, or until the chicken is done.

3 Adjust the seasoning. Shred the larger basil leaves and leave the small ones whole. Sprinkle over the chicken and serve with flat bread or couscous.



judith said...

I somehow happened on your marvelous blog as I was in search of an Abgusht
recipe and lo and behold... I wanted to make it like a Persian friend's mother used to make it when she visited my friend, her son.

Thanks for a truly wonderful treasure of great chat and recipes. I am not a foodie, I am a traveler, and I live between LA (California) and Berlin so virtually all ingredients are available.
Now I just have to use them well.

My favorite Middle Eastern simple enough food writer has been Claudia Rodan. You would do well to extend her message and make your own cookbook.

Again, thanks so much for all you are making available.

Saffron said...

Hi Judith,

Thank you for your lovely message.

You probably have the best of all worlds between LA and Berlin! The Turkish and Persian food must be terrific in Berlin.

You won't go wrong with Najmieh Batmanglij's abgusht. It is sensational. Let me know how it goes.

Truly, Claudia Roden is a superstar! It is a dream of mine to write a cookbook one day. When the Young Man goes off to uni, I hope to head off to the ME and who knows? It's a great, big tasty world out there!