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Friday, 16 March 2012

Chicken Tajine with Honey Lime Yogurt

Generally I'm not a fan of kitchen gadgetry.  You won't find any slap chops or flavourwave ovens in my cupboard.  There are, however, some exceptions and the tajine is one (onion goggles are obviously another).  A tajine is a large, conical, ceramic dish that comes from the Berber areas of North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria) .  It's used to cook a kind of stew with extremely tender meat and a very rich broth with various vegetables and aromatic fruits.  You can use just about any meat that braises well.  My favorite tajine actually uses lamb shoulder but T-Moo isn't a huge lamb fan and I generally only eat it in spring so chicken ends up being our go-to protein.

I'm told the secret to the dish's flavour is the conical shape of the tajine itself.  The idea is that the meat sits on top of the veggies so it gets steamed instead of stewed. The result is tender meat, rich broth and wild punches of flavour from the olives and fruits.  That being said, one of the best tajines I ever had was cooked in a dutch oven, which is a great alternative if you don't have the real thing.

I've been working on making better tajine for a couple of years now and have made good progress and only a few small fires (true story).  To avoid the aforementioned fires, I've learned not to overfill the tajine and to use less initial liquid since so much comes out of the vegetables.

6-10 chicken drumsticks
1 onion diced
1 can diced tomatoes, strained
2 carrots, diced
1/2 of a small eggplant, diced (sweat it first if you can)
1/2 squash, cut into 1 cm cubes
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup pitted olives, roughly chopped
1/4 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped
2 tbsp shelled, unsalted pistachios
~5 pitted apricots, quartered
Peel of 1 preserved lemon, diced
1/2 cup chicken stock

1 tsp turmurec
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp corriander seed
1/2 tsp ground chili flakes
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp harissa spice

1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 cup chicken stock
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp honey
zest of one lime
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp diced mint leaves

If you have the time, it's best to spice the meat and make the yogurt ahead of time so that the flavours combine nicely.  To make the yogurt, simply combine all ingredients, cover and refrigerate.  To spice the meat, first grind the spiced and then toast them in a dry frying pan over medium heat for a few minutes until they become fragrant.  Transfer to a large bowl and add the drumsticks, toss to coat and set aside for at least an hour (overnight is best).

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Combine the vegetables in the bottom of the tajine and add arrange the drumsticks on top, cover and put into the oven for ~1.5 hours.

While the tajine is cooking, make the couscous.  Bring the stock to a boil in a small pot, add the couscous, stir and remove from heat and stir in the olive oil and cilantro.

Serve the tajine over a bed of couscous and top with a spoonful of yogurt.


  1. This looks absolutely amazing! Bookmarked!

    1. I hope you like it! I highly recommend the lamb version too.