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Tajine is a staple of Moroccan cooking and food. There are a million ways to make one and no right or wrong way to put one together. Unless you ask my husband. Let's call him a tajine purist. Certain spices and vegetables “go” with chicken, and the same with beef, lamb, fish, and every other protein. I operate off of that principle and learning what goes with what was a great learning tool. However I know that in the home kitchens of Morocco, women operate on the same principle we have here – use what you have! That's the school of thought that this tajine came from. Mr. Purist absconded me saying that it wouldn't work on our little backyard charcoal grill but I persisted knowing that it was the closest version of the Moroccan brazier (the authentic cooking apparatus) we had!
Suffice to say – he was wrong and I was right. His first bite of it he closed his eyes and said “this hobi, this is real Moroccan tajine”. If you've got a few hours, a bunch of friends and a love of charcoal this tajine is for you. Feel free to mix up the vegetables with what you have on hand or like.
(I use organic, free range products whenever possible for the best taste)
2-3 chicken breasts (bone in or out – any chicken will work fine in this)
3 Russet Potatoes
4 large carrots, peeled and quartered
1 large tomato cut into eighths
2 1/4 pieces of msiya (preserved lemons)
1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic chopped
3 tsp high quality olive oil
3 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ginger
Clean, peel and cut all vegetables into wedges (see pictures). Clean the chicken. In the bottom of the tajine, add half of the oil and the chopped up onion and garlic. Place the chicken on top of the onions and garlic. Cut each of the pieces of lemon in half and place one strip between each piece of chicken. Add half of the spice mixture (cumin, pepper, tumeric, ginger) on top of the chicken. Place the vegetable wedges around the chicken like the spokes of a bicycle, alternating potato, carrot, tomato. Add the rest of the spices on top of the vegetables and drizzle the remaining oil.
Prepare your grill, adding in charcoal and allowing it to warm up for 10-15 minutes. Cover the tajine and place onto the grill. The liquid may bubble out – don't worry. In the beginning the liquids from the vegetables and meat will be plentiful but as it cooks they will reduce. If you feel like it is getting dry you can add some water into the tajine. Do not open the cover of the tajine more than 1 or 2 times during cooking. The lid circulates heat around the dish and that is what cooks the meal. It will take between 2-3 hours to cook. This depends a lot on the heat of the grill, the vegetables you are using, and how often the tajine has been opened. The meat and vegetables should be very tender and there should be some sauce left in the tajine. Eat hot, with Moroccan bread.