I’m not ready for cold weather but I am ready for more warm food. This kind of food.
Emma’s first exposure to Moroccan food was at Epcot in the Moroccan pavilion. She loved the music and the dancing. G and I loved the food. She thought of Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. We thought of warm complex spices, flavourful sweet dates and preserved lemons. With Emma’s love for “all things Moroccan”, we couldn’t let this opportunity pass to introduce some Moroccan food to our brood.
This dish encompasses so much of Moroccan cuisine is known for — dried fruits, olives and spices such as turmeric, cumin, cinnamon and coriander. It’s also prepared in a tagine. (Incidentally, should you not have one, you can still prepare this in a large pan with a lid.)
Although G and I gobble up this tagine each time we prepare it, the girls each had different parts they enjoyed. For them in the end, it was the pilaf that sealed the deal, complementing the bright lemony olive-y chicken perfectly. Try it — you’ll find it’s the perfect way to warm your house and your belly!
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3 pieces each
1 large Spanish onion, chopped finely
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch of salt
2-3 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 preserved lemons, thinly sliced
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
2 cups cracked green olives
10 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
Moroccan-Scented Pilaf (see recipe below)
Heat the oil on medium heat and brown the chicken thighs. Next, add the chopped onion, coriander, ginger, turmeric, salt and pepper. Fry until the onions are softened and lightly golden.
Pour just enough chicken broth into the mixture to just barely cover the chicken. Add the sliced lemons and cook, covered, on medium heat for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add a little more broth if needed.
After 30 minutes, stir in the lemon juice and cook for another 15 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked through and tender, add the olives and chopped parsley. Serve immediately over pilaf or on its own.
(serves 6 as a side dish)
1 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cups chopped dried dates, apricots and raisins
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 tbsp Moroccan seasoning (see recipe below)
In a small saucepan on medium-high heat, bring the rice and chicken broth to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Stir and continue to cook, covered, for another 5 minutes until the rice has absorbed the broth.
When the rice is cooked, stir in the dried fruit, herbs and seasoning. Serve hot.
5 tsp ground nutmeg
5 tsp ground cumin
5 tsp ground coriander
2 1/2 tsp allspice
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
In a small bowl, combine the seasonings and mix well. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Keeps well for 6 months.
Tips and Suggestions:
I use an Emile Henry flameproof tagine which means that I can brown the chicken in the tagine itself on the stovetop. If your tagine is not made for the stovetop or you don’t have one, you can do the first few steps in a large pan.
Use the best green olives you can get your hands on. It really makes a huge difference in flavour of dish.
No preserved lemons? No problem. Although this dish tastes best with preserved lemons, it’s something that many may not always have on hand. For a quick substitute, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan. Cut the ends off of 1 washed lemon and slice the lemon thinly. Add the lemon slices, a sprinkle of brown sugar and kosher salt to the pan. Saute slowly until the peels are tender. Then, add them to the dish calling for preserved lemons.
Consider making the pilaf with couscous instead of rice for a more traditionally Moroccan meal.