Bring fragrant smells of a Moroccan Souk into your kitchen!
Think Moroccan and we conjure up images of the deep, vivid, colours from the open sacks of spices in markets and stacks of highly patterned ceramics. Smells in the air are sweet and spicy, that feed the senses from a culture that is centred around a traditional cuisine. In keeping with the theme of the 19seventiesgirl blog, this tagine is quick, easy and healthy. Tagine cooking is a similar method casserole cooking and using a slow cooker. Moroccan, north African flavours are a mild and exotic mix of ingredients. Traditionally tagines are cooked slowly in conical ceramic tagine pots. The slow cooking tenderises the meat and infuses all the flavours throughout the dish.
We know green foods are good for us and a daily green smoothie has become “de rigueur”. Black and dark purple foods like dark grapes, beetroot, black rice, black lentils and dark berries are also full of antioxidants that enrich your diet and health. Like the stunning yellow, orange of fresh turmeric and saffron, these brightly coloured foods send visual messages that draw us to healthy foods that heal and build healthy, strong bodies giving us vitality. I added black lentils to this tagine to reduce the amount of animal food required in the recipe and increase the healthy plant food quota. These black lentils are available in my local supermarket and market, if you have trouble finding them, puy lentils are a good substitute.
I am making this tagine in winter but any time of year is a good time for this recipe. The fruits can be changed replacing nectarines with apricots or peaches and figs with dates. Teenagers could make this standing on their head, so take a night off and let the kids cook. Once everything is in the tagine, the work is done.
There seems to be a lot of evidence that many millennium children have few life skills. With some basic kitchen skills and understanding of how to source and buy fresh, healthy foods, there is no reason why kids can’t help with meals. When I used to teach kids cooking, many would meet me at the school gate in the morning to find out what was on the menu that day……….yes, all kids love to eat but they also had a lot of fun cooking and loved sharing their spoils at a table with each other.
Given some guidance and skills, kids are very capable. What better life skills can you give your kids besides how to look after their health and to be able to select, grow and cook healthy, yummy food for the every day!
So,life be in it, lets all get involved!
Cooks note: mise en place: a French cooking term, meaning, have everything in its place. This helps to keep an organised kitchen and an unflustered cook. Preparing all ingredients first, taking out the equipment you need and reading through a recipe will make cooking relaxing and fun as it should be. Put on some music, try and keep the bench space tidy and there will be less cleaning up at the end.
Ingredients: prepare all ingredients first
6-8 chicken thighs, depending on how hungry your tribe is
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 brown onion peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger. Peel ginger and grate on a microplane
1/2 tablespoon of freshly grated turmeric or 1/2 teaspoon of dry turmeric
1/2 teaspoon dried cumin
1/ teaspoon dried coriander
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup chopped dry figs
1/2 cup chopped dry apricots or dried nectarines
1 cup of black or puy lentils
1 litre chicken stock
salt and black pepper to taste, optional, leave out for small children
water added as needed
1/2 cup shelled, walnuts roasted
salt and pepper optional
fresh coriander to serve and natural yogurt
Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large heavy based saucepan.
Lightly brown the chicken on each side, remove and leave on a plate for now.
Place onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric into the saucepan and lightly sauté to combine for 3-4 minutes on a gentle heat.
Stir in cumin and coriander.
Add all other ingredients and bring to a slow simmer. Place on the lid and cook for 90 minutes
Note: If the liquid level becomes too low as the lentils and dried fruits take it up, add 1/2 to one cup of water.
Serve in shallow bowls with natural yogurt on the side and fresh coriander and roasted walnuts sprinkled on top.
Left overs can be frozen for up to 8 weeks
X 70’s girl