Chicken tights served with orange wedges, orange sauce and flaky almonds

Moroccan chicken tagine with orange wedges

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Moroccan Cooking varies depending where we’re looking, whether it’s the city, the mountain, the desert, the countryside or the sea side.

Although we may have some common dishes and some others which have recently become common across the countries as well as people from all walks of life, we still “discover” each other through our different types of dishes.

 

Chicken tights served with orange wedges, orange sauce and flaky almonds

Moroccan chicken tagine with orange. Credit @Nada Kiffa

Tagine inspiration

I grew up enjoying Fassi cuisine (Fes/Fez) and some of the “Casablancaise” specialties since I was born and raised in Casablanca. I never heard of oranges in a tagines until I opened “La Cuisine Marocaine de mère en fille” by Touria Agourram.
What an amazing collection of recipes and stories! It has become one of my favourite Moroccan cookbooks although.
The book hasn’t got a single picture but rather some drawings scattered here and there. However, it’s a collection of traditional practices and recipes by cities or regions. In a nutshell, exactly what I like!

Cooking on the light side

Today’s recipe has oranges as topping, which is the only new thing to me, the bird is cooked as a regular Mqalli of chicken meant to go with sweet topping or garnishing.
I decided to sweeten the oranges with good honey although the recipe calls for only a bit of sugar to do the job. The oranges I used today were naturally sweet so it didn’t really need much.

Ideally, a beldi chicken, quail or a gamy bird should be used for this tagine. For optimal taste, cook it in a tagine over charcoal or wood. But for today, I’ve just used baby chicken and cooked the tagine over a cooker..

 

Ingredients
Serves 2
Prep: 10 min – cooking: 45 – 90 min (depending on the type of bird and the use of a pot vs tagine)
For the mqalli of chicken
  • 1 baby chicken (you may use a whole baby chicken or quail)
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of coriander to make a small bouquet 
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2/3 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp of ground white pepper
  • A good pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 tsp of sea salt or salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp of smen (Moroccan cured aged clarified butter), optional
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp of good honey
 
For the orange topping
  • 2 sweet oranges, cut in wedges, discard the white membrane
  • 2/3 tsp of cinnamon
  • 2 tbsps of honey ( or sugar)
  • 20 g of butter
  • 1 tsp of orange blossom water
Garnishing
  • Toasted almonds or sesame seeds
 
Preparation
Mqalli of chicken 
 
Mix half of the spices with smen  (Moroccan aged butter) or/and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Massage the chicken pieces with it. Set aside while you chop the onions.
 
Place a dutch oven/deep saucepan/tagine on medium heat. Add about 4 tablespoons of water, the chopped onions, the chicken, spices and coriander. Stir it a couple of times over the heat so the spices spread evenly and coat the chicken. 
 
Once the liquid seem to have evaporated, add the oil and pour enough water (only from the side and not on top of the chicken) to cover the bird (only 1/3 of the quantity if you are cooking in a tagine) and cover. Let simmer until chicken has cooked and the liquid has reduced.  Add the honey and check the seasoning.
 
If you are using a tagine for this recipe, you should prepare the orange topping once you see that the tagine is almost ready.
 
If you are cooking this recipe in a saucepan or a dutch oven, I suggest you add an extra step: Fish out the chicken and glaze it with a tiny bit of oil. Place it under a grill/broiler for 20 min at 200 degrees C. Meanwhile, allow the sauce in the pan to reduce and thicken.  Get on with the orange topping.
 
Orange topping
 
Heat butter, honey and cinnamon in a frying pan. add the orange wedges. Let them render some liquid and delicately flip them or they’ll break. This process will take about 3 to 4 minutes on high flame/heat.
 
Serving the chicken with oranges
 
Serve the sauce first, add the chicken pieces and top with the orange wedges. 
 
I made a reduction of orange juice by adding what I collected when cutting the orange and poured it into the pan used to make the orange topping, I waited for the water to evaporate and added it on top of the …topping.
 
I also toasted some flaked almonds and caramelised some, for extra texture! Delicious!
 
Serve warm with bread or without..

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Cooked Moroccan tagine with artichoke, courgette and potato

Slow cooked Moroccan tagine with seasonal vegetables

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In this wonderful season, there are plenty of fresh vegetables in the market and I have all the reasons to enjoy them, the main one being that the word “fresh” was rarely used when I was still in Qatar. The other reason is that Tagine cooking is a healthy option. So this is a healthy dish.

In Morocco, artichokes, green peas, courgettes or zucchinis, fennel…are quite abundant during this period. They’re also cheap.
 

I have made this tagine a couple of weeks ago and I can insure you it’s very easy. It’s also quite versatile, you can add fennel or carrots (not both), remove one of the vegetables mentioned in the recipe. You can also change the type of meat, or even discard the meat.

Ingredients 

Serves about 6
 Prep: 10 min – Cooking time: up to 2 hours over a wooden fire (or BBQ fire)

  • 1kg of veal shanks cut into osso bucco style
  • A handful of peas
  • 6 heads of fresh artichoke, pre-cooked in water and lemon
  • About 3 zucchini, cut lengthwise into sections
  • About 2 large potatoes, cut into 8 wedges or cubes
  • 2 to 3 tbsp of good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 1 spring onion
  • 2 heaped tbsps chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • A good pinch of saffron threads (optional)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 good tsp ginger powder or 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 chili (optional)


For garnishing

 

Preparation 
Heat the bottom of the tagine on the wooden fire or use a pressure cooker. 

Add the oil and fry the chopped yellow onion (they call them spanish onions as well). 

Rub the slices of meat with some spices mentioned and a tablespoon of oil. Sear the meat from two sides, about 10 min. Cover meat with water and then place the cover and the meat cook through, which usually takes about 1 h to 1 h 30 . Check the liquid level at least twices during this time. It’s not indicated to uncover the tagine beyond that (frequently) because the concept of tagine cooking is that the steam coming from the ingredients is what is going to make it cook, if you open frequently, this steam will escape…

Pinch the meat, if it is almost tender, first add the peas (frozen peas work too, but will take less time to cook), line up the other vegetables: potatoes, zucchini, get to the heads of artichokes. It is best to add salt, pepper and herbs between each layer of vegetables. Mix the remaining spices (turmeric, ginger and saffron) with a few tablespoons of hot water and spread over the vegetables. I also add chopped spring onion (including the green part) between the layers. 

Cover and finish cooking vegetables. This step takes about 30 minutes in a tagine cooked the traditional way.

5 to 10 minutes before serving, add green olives and preserved lemon cut in length so they infuse in the tagine.Serve hot with a good piece of bread.


Oh by the way, a cat came by, invaded my little garden and he/she was also enjoying the nice weather..Didn’t feel like disturbing the poor thing..



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Berber tagine with meat, olives and argan oil

Berbere Moroccan Tagine with Raisins and Olives

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This tagine calls for the fancy Argan oil. I hope you can get hold of it. It is largely used in Southern Morocco, hence the name of the Tagine. Sweetness meets sourness, none of them will overpower the other. This Tagine will take you for a trip to South Morocco while sitting in your kitchen.

The build-up to a good Berber tagine.

This tagine is easy to make for a simple reason: we use the same standards spices used in all Moroccan kitchens all over Morocco. As you can see, cumin is not part of it because simple it’s nt present in all our food, neither is Ras El Hanout. Why am I referring to these two? Well because practically most of the blogs or Books writing by a non Moroccan calls for these two when then pretend to cook Moroccan.
Tagine as you may already know is the clay pot we cook in. We call the food cooked in it Tagine. In other words, if it’s not cooked in a Tagine, it ain’t a Tagine.
The best way to cook Tagine is over charcoal/wood fire over a BBQ for more authenticity. Tagine do not like direct heat, it’s a slow cooking concept where the onions tend to caramelise and meat falls of the bone or becomes very tender.
A good Tagine doesn’t need too much liquid since the vegetables used will give it what it needs to cook. But you can kick it with ½ cup of water whenever you see the need.
I find a good Tagine dish is the one where the onions would have caramelised and have a slight burnt flavour and reduced sauce, but my mother likes to find some sauce left to dip it a good piece of Moroccan bread..So which one are you?

Ingredients

For 6 persons
Prep: 10 min/ Cooking: 90 -120 min
  • 2 tbsp Argan oil
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion – chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic – crushed
  • 1 tbsp of curcuma powder
  • 1 tsp of saffron threads
  • 1 kg tender lamb with bones, best are osso bucco cuts
  • A small bunch of parsley (optional)
  • Salt and peper to taste
  • Handful of green and red olives (not bitter)
  • Handful of dry raisins
  • 1 preserved lemons – cut into strips (remove all pips)
Moroccan olives, Grab them whenever you find them…

Method

  • Marinate the meat in the spices and garlic except saffron. Keep in the fried overnight or at least couple of hours.
  • Infuse the saffron threads in ½ cup of water.
  • Heat the vegetable oil and olive oil in a Tagine with heavy bottom.
  • Add ½ of the chopped onion. Let cook until transparent.
  • Sear the meat with the onions.  Put the lid on the Tagine and let the flavours infuse for 15 minutes on a low heat.  Stir occasionally.
  • Add the saffron with its water, the rest of the onion
  • Cover the tagine and let cook on slow heat. Make sure you do not open it frequently because the Tagine relies on that steam that may come out. You might try to check every 30 min and add water when needed, stir to make sure your food is not sticking at the bottom.
  • 20 min before the end of the cooking process, add the olives and the raisins (you may soak them if you do not have too much sauce in your Tagine). Decorate with the lemon strips and 1 tbsp of chopped coriander.
  • Put the lid back on the Tagine and continue cooking until the lamb is tender enough to cut with a spoon.
  • Drizzle Argan oil 5 min before serving so it infuses without being neutralized by the heat!
  • Serve with nice bread; I wouldn’t dare saying with couscous because we eat our Tagines with bread and never with Couscous.
  • Enjoy your authentic Moroccan meal!

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