Fewer dishes please me more than this one and I have made it more times than I care to mention. It is hands-down one of my favourite feast-like chicken dishes. It’s humble enough for a midweek family meal but also exotic and impressive enough to serve up to a discerning foodie crowd. It epitomises the food I like the most – peasant food that is ridiculously sophisticated in flavour! It’s easy to scale up to feed the masses and I often make double the amount anyway as it keep & freezes well. In fact it tastes better on day two/three of sitting in its delectable fragrant lemony juices.
This version was made with added chickpeas & some dried limes
I use the best free range chicken thighs I can find – and then remove the skin myself (why pay extra for something that takes minutes?) and always use chicken on the bone for extra flavour. You can omit various ingredients if it’s not your thing – the olives for example, or preserved lemon – but it won’t be the same. My favourite preserved lemons are these below and I buy them from the Olive Branch Deli at Lifestyle on kloof (I have seen them at farm stalls here and there too) However I am sure any other kind would be nice 🙂
Ingredients – serves 4 (2 pieces of chicken pp)
8 skinless chicken pieces – thighs on bone preferably
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped,
2 tsp finely chopped garlic,
1 thumb finely minced ginger,
2 tsp ground Moroccan Spice, (or 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander & 1tsp turmeric)
1 cinnamon stick,
1 x 400g (14oz) tin chopped tomatoes,
1 can of chickpeas (optional)
1 tbsp runny honey,
400ml (1/2 pt) hot chicken stock,
½ preserved lemon finely chopped,
100g (4oz) dried apricots,
50g Sundried tomatoes (can use 2 tbsp tomato paste to replace)
handful olives of your choice – pitted or not
2 tbsp coriander chopped
- Turn oven to 180 C moderate oven
- In a casserole pan sweat the onions down in the olive oil for 5 mins until starting to caramelise.
- Add the minced ginger and garlic, and fry for 2 more minutes.
- Add the ground spices spices, honey and cinnamon stick and stir till onions are thoroughly coated.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, olives, preserved lemons, apricots & stock and simmer for 15-20mins
- In a shallow pan brown the chicken pieces in a tbsp hot olive oil and put to one side in a baking/tagine dish/roasting tray
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and bake in a tagine or in a baking dish uncovered for 40 minutes.
Before roasting in the oven
Love the way the apricots caramelise slightly when roasting
- Check after 40mins to make sure liquid not evaporating too much, if so cover with foil and cook for another 20mins. Otherwise leave uncovered and continue to cook.
- Dress with fresh coriander and and serve with a crisp green salad on its own or with steamed Quinoa or couscous for a more hungry crowd!
*Picture credit Patrycia Lukas for the shot with tagine base & lid