“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
I am hearing the call of distant shores. My travel bug is starting to itch and I find myself pouring over books and websites to learn about exotic destinations. I imagine what it would be like to wander the towns and villages and to taste the local cuisine. I imagine the photo possibilities and the local culture. I am particularly inspired by beautiful architecture or places filled with art and rich in history.
I love roaming the countryside and seeing where the local food is produced. I love to visit a cooking school or taste some local wines at a vineyard. Some countries like France and Italy have such wonderful rural villages they make you wonder why we visit the cities at all.
I have so many places that I want to see; the challenge is choosing which one to visit first. For now, I will have to settle for trying some interesting new cuisine in my own back yard. I will create a culinary journey by featuring some international dishes over the next few months.
I am very fortunate to live in a city where the cultural diversity is part of everyday life and little pockets of ethnic food shops are easily found. Today, I am featuring a wonderful Spicy Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Rosemary and Ginger from Morocco.
A tagine is a cooking vessel used in North Africa to cook stews of meat, fish, chicken, vegetables and fruits. The recipe cooked in this vessel is also referred to as a tagine.I am new to cooking with this type of vessel, but I was able to find one by Staub that has a cast iron bottom and ceramic cone shaped topper. It worked perfectly for this recipe which calls for the tagine to simmer on top of the stove creating a lovely brown skin on the meat as it cooks.
Traditionally tagines are also used for serving the dish in Moroccan cuisine. Many traditional tagines are made of clay and are glazed with beautiful designs for that reason.
If you do not have a tagine you can make this recipe in a cast iron pot that has a lid.
The chicken turned out to be very moist and tender and the apricots and honey add just the right amount sweetness to offset the ginger, rosemary and cinnamon. I was so please with flavours of this dish, I invited my daughters to pop over and try some. We all agreed that it is definitely worth making again. I will have to try more tagine recipes as well.
2 tbsp. olive oil with a pat of butter
1 onion finely chopped
3 sprigs of rosemary, 1 finely chopped, 2 halved
1-1 ½ inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 red chilies, seeded and finely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
8 chicken thighs
3/4 cup dried apricots
2 tbsp. clear honey
1- 14oz. can plum tomatoes with their juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil and butter in a tagine or heavy-based casserole dish. Stir in the onion, chopped rosemary, ginger, and chilies and sauté until the onion begins to soften.
Stir in the halved rosemary sprigs and the cinnamon sticks. Add the chicken thighs and brown them on both sides.
Toss in the apricots and the honey, then, stir in the plum tomatoes with the juice. (Add a little water if necessary, to ensure enough liquid to cover the base of the tagine and submerge the apricots.)
Bring the liquid to a boil, then, reduce the heat. Cover with a lid and cook gently for 35-40 minutes.
Season to taste, with salt and pepper. Shred the larger basil leaves and leave the smaller ones intact. Sprinkle them over the chicken and serve immediately.
This dish would be perfect served with couscous or rice.
Recipe from Tagine-Spicy Stews from Morocco by Ghillie Basan