Mutton tagine, anise flavoured snails, fresh orange juice and cinnamon are some of the dishes that fill my memory when I think about my visit to Morocco few years ago. At night the main square in Marrakesh is filled with food stalls, many hungry people, dancers, performers, storytellers and women doing tattoos. You could just sit in one of the cafes, have a meal and observe this amazing show for hours. After Marrakesh we did trekking in Atlas mountains. And after that we went to Zagora, did Sahara dessert tour and spent two days in the Berber tent. Overall Morocco has a lot to offer to travelers and adventure seekers. I hope to come back there soon.
So today we prepared this delicious Moroccan chicken one-pot. You need quite a few ingredients and it takes time to prepare but it is so worth it. It is classical Moroccan sweet and sour combination of flavours. Prepare it for special occasion and enjoy it with your friends. In original recipe they used dried cherries, we got dried cranberries instead. Original recipe comes from October issue of BBC Good Food Magazine.
Last time we did 10 facts about Greece so today for a change will be 9 facts about Morocco. And on Friday get back to us for delicious dessert post.
1. Moroccan cuisine has huge diversity of influences. The Arab invasion brought new spices, nuts and dried fruits, the Moors introduced olives, olive juice and citrus, the Ottoman Empire introduced barbecue as well as kebabs and the French colony left behind a culture of cafes, pastries, and wine.
2. The cuisine of the first inhabitants, the Berbers, still exists today in the staple dishes like tagine and couscous.
3. Dried ginger, cumin, salt, black pepper and turmeric is a mixture found in almost every tagine and couscous. Cloves, sesame seeds and cardamom are used in creams, desserts and pastries.
4. For breakfast, many Moroccans eat bread with olive oil, tea, and different kinds of Moroccan crepes. Lunch is the big meal in Moroccan households and it usually is a selection of salads and a tagine or couscous all put out on the table at the same time. With everyone gathered around the table, the meal starts when the head of the family says “bismillah” (in the name of God) and the feast begins. Since lunch is so big, dinner is usually low-key. People sometimes eat leftovers from lunch or they might prepare a soup.
5. Bread is sacred in Morocco. If a piece of bread falls from the dinner table on the ground, you are to pick it up and kiss it. At the table, instead of a fork and knife, Moroccans use a small piece of bread, their thumb and first two fingers to pick up food. Maroccans avoid the use of left hand when eating or handling any kind of food.
6. Tagine is a historically Berber dish. It is a stew made of meats and vegetables and traditionally cooked in a conical clay pot to allow the steam to rise, condense and drip back down to the stew.
7. Moroccan mint tea, or what Moroccans will call “Moroccan whiskey”, is considered an art form and is the national icon for hospitality.
8. Couscous, known in Morocco as seksu, is a traditional Berber dish. It is made of fine semolina and topped with meat and vegetables. Couscous is typically made with seven vegetables. Friday is the day of prayer, so it is a Moroccan tradition all over the country to celebrate this day with a couscous meal.
9. Ramadan comes from the Arabic word root, which means scorching, heat or dryness. While fasting from dawn until sunset Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking and sexual relations and it includes increased praying and recitation of Quran.
Moroccan chicken one-pot
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions
- 100g tomatoes
- 100g ginger
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp each ground cumin, coriander and cinnamon
- 1 large butternut squash
- 600ml chicken stock
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 100g dried cherries
- 1 small red onion
- zest one lemon
- handful mint leaves
- 100g feta
Season the chicken. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a flameproof dish, then brown the chicken on all sides. Remove the chicken to a plate. Peel the onions. Roughly chop one and slice the other one. Deseed and cut into big chunks butternut squash. Whizz the chopped onion, tomatoes, ginger and garlic into a paste. Fry the sliced onion in the remaining oil in the dish until softened, then add the spices and fry for one minute until fragrant. Add the paste and fry for another few minutes to soften.
Return the chicken to the dish with the squash, stock, sugar and vinegar. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 30 mins until the chicken is cooked through. Lift the chicken out and stir in the cranberries, then continue simmering the sauce to thicken while you shred (with fork or hands) the chicken into bite-sized chunks. Stir the chicken back into the sauce and season.
Mix the red onion, lemon zest, mint and crumbled feta. Scatter over the dish, than serve with some couscous and yoghurt.