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Rainy Tagine

March 29, 2010

Back to the grindstone on this rainy Monday. Does anyone else notice that things get so hectic in the spring? My job has me running around like crazy and paperwork is beginning to take over my desk. I think my brain’s winter hibernation must come to an end.

On a cold, dreary day such as this, I like to imagine that I am someplace warm and foreign, perhaps even wishing for air conditioning it is so hot outside. While for the sake of the environment I won’t turn the thermostat up to 80* (and I don’t have control over the heat anyway, thanks cheap apartment!) I can still create my own little room of warmth and aroma by whipping up some Moroccan food.

Morocco’s warm spices and sweet flavors are such a comfort in rain or snow. Tangine style chicken has been on my list to make all winter; my hankering ebbed and waved with the temperature. I was craving the sweetness of dried fruit encompassed by Ras el hanout, but I always had another recipe lined up, ended up at a restaurant, or New England weather decided to become like summer in March. I think I might be too much of a planner. But tonight, my friends, that craving was satisfied.

A tagine is a classic Moroccan stew, named after the earthenware pot it is made in. The pot has a circular base with a unique, cone-shaped top ideal for cooking for long hours, as the condensation easily collects in the top and drips back in, allowing the stew to develop flavors without drying out. Such a pot has been Westernized into the less elaborate Dutch oven, used to make pot roast and lamb shank, American versions of this ancient dish.Β  But the medley of Moroccan sweet and spiciness is what I craved, even though a Dutch oven is all I had.

Tagine Style Chicken with Raisins and Cashews

3 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon tumeric

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup cashews, crushed

Brown rice

Cilantro to garnish

In a Dutch oven, saute the garlic for a few minutes. Add the chicken pieces and let cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until browned.

Add the onion, raisins, spices and chicken stock. Bring to a boil then simmer, lid on, for 5 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue to simmer for 15 minutes, allowing the juices to reduce into a thick sauce. Taste and add cumin, salt, and pepper if needed.

Serve atop brown rice, garnished with cilantro and cashews.

As I was cooking I had to call Z in for some backup. After adding the broth the dish just looked like a watery mess. For a moment I forgot one of the most important things I have learned since beginning to cook: patience. Sometimes just a few more minutes of simmering and stirring will liven texture and deepen flavors. I sat down and started to get upset about my “fail” recipe, but when Z stirred the pot and added some more cumin and salt everything came together. Tonight’s cooking was a gentle reminder that if things don’t seem to go right, don’tΒ  give up immediately. There is always a way to make it better.

The aromas of this dish will draw anyone into the kitchen. I love the mixture of sweet and savory. Next time I would love to have some more dried fruit, perhaps apricots or dates. But the raisins brought nice bursts of juicy flavor that really made the dish. The addition of the fresh cilantro and the crunchy, sweet cashews added another dimension and excitement. The flavors of this meal were earthy and rich, perfect for attempting to wish the rain away. Or at least pretending I am in Morocco :).

What are your favorite garnishes? Fresh herbs are by far my favorite.


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17 Comments leave one →
  1. March 29, 2010 9:52 pm

    Oof, I really need to get a dutch oven – this looks delicious! I love the spices.

    My favorite garnishes are easily fresh herbs, too – I love basil and parsley especially, but get a kick out of cilantro and lemongrass too πŸ™‚

    When it comes to sweet garnishes if it comes from PB&Co, I’m on board!!

  2. March 29, 2010 11:37 pm

    There’s a little Moroccan restaurant down the street that displays tangines and serves dishes similar to the one you made. I love the flavors! Dried fruit mixed with cumin, cilantro, tumeric and cinnamon is amazing. It’s so unique and the flavors just work. I’m glad your recipe turned out well and that Z was able to lend you a hand. Don’t worry; I tend to freak sometimes, too. You are not alone!

  3. March 30, 2010 3:54 am

    That sounds delicious. I love the scent of sweet and savory.

  4. March 30, 2010 5:44 am

    MMMMmmmmm, I can almost smell it!! Looks awesome!! πŸ™‚

  5. March 30, 2010 7:20 am

    I love Moroccan food! And you’re so right about patience when cooking. It is all about waiting until the food is just right before eating. My favorite garnishes are Italian flavors – like basil and oregano.

  6. March 30, 2010 8:39 am

    I think a garnish should be edible and complement the dish. I hate when dishes are garnished with a sprig of parsley. First, because I hate parsley. Second because, most of the time, parsley doesn’t even go with the dish and it’s just there to look nice. It’s a pet peeve of mine.

  7. March 30, 2010 8:52 am

    I love the complexity of flavor in meals like this. Dried fruit is so complementary to savory food. I love love love to garnish with fruit/lemon or lime zest/fresh parsley and basil. I do like for the garnish to be edible- but I am sort of wacky about presentation so I wouldn’t put it past me to use a zany piece of plastic if it enhanced the look! Haha.
    And it’s so true that patience is important in good cooking. SOmetimes it really is a matter of a few more minutes of simmering for the desired thickness and flavor melding.
    A tagine from a hot foreign land is perfect for the cold, rainy weather!!

  8. March 30, 2010 9:19 am

    I love that you used cashews – I need to remember to buy some (and hide them from Ben ’cause they’ll be gone in a day if he knows!)

  9. March 30, 2010 9:44 am

    This looks delicious! I absolutely love sweet and savory combinations. And cashews are probably my favorite nut, but my husband always eats them as snacks when I buy them!

  10. March 30, 2010 10:11 am

    I made a tagine the other day for the first time but honestly yours looks much better! Even though I don’t eat chicken. πŸ™‚

    I love cilantro…everything is better, even presentation wise, with cilantro.

  11. March 30, 2010 12:42 pm

    Gosh, you throw in raisins and nuts in there, and you can make a shoe taste good! This looks and sounds awesome. I only wish I could taste it!
    Fave garnish is runny eggs and cheese for sure!

  12. March 30, 2010 6:44 pm

    I love everything about this dish! Way YUM!!!

  13. March 30, 2010 6:52 pm

    Oh all this raisin and cashew goodness in this tagine is making me swallow hard! YUM!It is definitely a dish for the cold weather here in Colorado!
    Nice to make your acquaintance!

  14. March 30, 2010 9:33 pm

    certainly perfect for this weather! i’ve been meaning to try a dish like this, too πŸ™‚

  15. March 30, 2010 10:52 pm

    i love warming spices and also raisins in savory dishes are great, as you did!
    have a great day! πŸ™‚

  16. DiningAndDishing permalink
    March 31, 2010 2:24 pm

    Hey Lady! Thanks for visiting your blog. Totally not related to food but I LOVE the dress you have on in that pic of you up top. Beautiful! πŸ™‚

    – Beth @ http://www.DiningAndDishing.com

  17. DiningAndDishing permalink
    March 31, 2010 2:24 pm

    I mean “my blog” !! ahhhh

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