Like every other person on this planet, I love to travel. It’s funny isn’t it, how people nowadays think of ‘travelling’ as a hobby? Yet another thing we can thank the intrepid Mr. Michael O’Leary for, I guess. Anyways, everyone loves holidays, no surprises there. But I’m the only person I know who picks a destination based on what kind of food you’ll get. Feck culture, I’m hungry.
Paris may have the Musée d’Orsay, but it also has dark and interesting brasseries and a boulangerie on every corner. Yumo! As for Barcelona; yeah, yeah, Gaudí was great, challenged modern architecture like never before, but is it nearly time for paella? I could continue but I may be labelled a philistine, or worse yet, a lush.
Anyway, the point of this is that when I go away, I try to take a cookery course if I can. These types of courses generally include a trip to the local market to buy ingredients, where you can learn, see and smell all kinds of weird and wonderful things. It can be really interesting, however you are likely to come home with a handful of recipes that call for pandan leaves or galangal root or other such exotic items you don’t generally come across in Dunnes Stores.
Not so with my trip to Marrakesh a few years ago. This recipe only calls for things you generally would have at home, or at the very least could easily find in the local shop. And it is de-lic-ious. I was taught to make this by a woman at a riad (I’ve been looking for the website but can’t seem to find it unfortunately). Riads are small courtyard houses, many of which have been converted into amazing boutique hotels. I spent a few hours at the riad, learning all the tricks and tips the cook had to offer. Later that evening, The Fella and I came back to be served our meal by the plunge pool on the roof and feel totally decadent!
Sweet chicken tagine (or tajine) with minted couscous
Makes enough for four people
4 pieces of chicken, this could be a whole chicken, quartered, or any chicken pieces of your choice.
3 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, sliced into half rings
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
2 tsp ground cumin seeds
2 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper
2 tins of tomatoes
200 g (7 oz) dried apricots
For the minty couscous:
200 g (7 oz) couscous
200 ml chicken stock
½ tbsp olive oil
handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Brown the chicken pieces in a hot pan with the olive oil. Add the onions and cook for about 4 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add all of the dried herbs and spices and the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer this mixture to a casserole dish (with a lid), or if you have one, a tagine, snuggle the lemon in alongside the chicken. Pop this into the oven for about 30-40 minutes, next add the apricots and cook for a further 20 minutes.
Place the couscous into a deep bowl. Add the stock and olive oil and mix well. Then cover the bowl and leave to sit for about 10 minutes until all of the water has been absorbed. Next, ‘fluff’ up the grains with a fork and mix the chopped mint through.
This is an absolutely delish dish and it’s just as good on a cold winter night as on a balmy desert evening. In reality my tagine is just for decoration and would be scoffed at by many Moroccans, but it looks good. A good casserole dish or even a slow cooker is all you’ll need for this exotic feast.
P.S: Our holiday snaps were taken by my very talented Fella, check out more of his super creative work on: www.fmangan.com.
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Creamy Chicken and Ginger
New Year beer fish
Tava tender lovin’ lamb