This chicken and vegetable tagine is my take on the many amazing tagines we tried while travelling through Morocco. What a destination that was!
Morocco had been on my travel wish list for years and it was wonderful to have finally made the trek over. We spent half our time on a personalised tour with the amazing Jaouad from Infinite Morocco tours and my only request to him was ‘no tourist food please’. With that, we were taken to back streets, alleys, souks and side of the road vendors. All of whom had tagines of all sorts bubbling away on little fires… my love affair with tagine cooking had definitely commenced. The smell was the first thing that got me.
What is a chicken and vegetable tagine cooked in?
A tagine! The word tagine is both the name of the dish and the earthenware pot in which it’s cooked. The Moroccan varieties (like those above) have round, shallow bases with conical lids. I’ve also come to find there are others such as the Egyptian tagine (like the one below). These are more like a traditional pot and have a slightly dome-shaped rather than cone-shaped lid.
Whilst the Moroccan tagine itself is beautiful (so is the Egyptian one!), the shape also serves a function. The conical lid traps in steam as the food cooks. The steam then circulates from the lid to the base allowing continuous and even heat to cook the meal inside. This also reduces and concentrates the liquid which caramelises the food. What you end up with as a result is a dish full of rich and exotic flavours.
Where did tagines originate?
The earliest mention of a tagine in history was in the 8th Century. It then appeared in Arabian Nights (a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales) in the 9th Century. Tagines were traditionally, and still are, cooked over coal. However, cooking them in the oven or on the stove top is also fine. They continue to be enjoyed in the Middle East and North Africa and are much like a savoury stew. They might contain things like meat, poultry or fish, vegetables, dried fruit, nuts and an array of spices. The ingredients used have changed over time given conquests and trade, and they continue to evolve today.
Whilst I love this chicken and vegetable tagine recipe, I also love making a vegetarian version. To do so, just replace the chicken with a can or 1-2 cups of beans. I’ve used adzuki and black beans before and both work well. And just recently I’ve started drizzling our bowls of tagine with the honey from my fermented garlic honey. Definitely worth a try, it’s delicious!
If you’re after some other serving suggestions, I love this tagine with a big dollop of labneh on it too. Do you have a favourite tagine combination? Let me know in the comments.
Chicken and vegetable tagine
- Large heavy-based saucepan (like a Le Creuset)
- Large tagine
- 400 g chicken breast, cut into large chunks (~3cm or 1 inch)
- 1 large carrot, cut in half lengthways then chopped into large chunks
- ½ red capsicum, chopped into large chunks
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 150 g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into large chunks
- 1 small birds eye chilli, thinly sliced (optional but delicious if you love a little heat)
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 tsp ras el hanout (Moroccan spice)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 250 ml chicken stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place your tagine in a cold oven and heat to 180 degrees Celsius (360F)
- Add ½ Tbsp of olive oil to a large pot/saucepan, fry the chicken until browned (a couple of minutes) then remove from the pot. Set aside while you prepare the vegetables
- Heat the other ½ Tbsp of olive oil in the same pot then add the onion, chilli and garlic. Fry gently until onions are translucent
- Add in the ras el hanout and cinnamon then fry for 30 seconds. Add chickpeas and diced tomatoes and stir well to combine
- Add in the carrots, capsicum, pumpkin, sweet potato, reserved chicken and chicken stock then season with salt and pepper. Stir everything well to combine
- Remove warmed tagine from the oven and fill with the chicken and vegetable mix
- Cover the tagine with the lid and return to the oven. Cook for 60 to 80 minutes or until chicken and vegetables are thoroughly cooked. It will depend on how big your chicken and vegetable pieces are so it is worth checking at the hour mark
- Serve with your choice of sides. My favourites are quinoa and chermoula.