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Very Hungry Nomads

Passport & Plate - Chicken Tagine with Olives & preserved lemons

Morocco | Tuesday, 25 February 2014 | 3 photos

Chermoula marinade
• 2 onions (chopped)
• 2 garlic cloves(chopped)
• half a preserved lemon, rinsed first, finely sliced( use rind only)
• half of 1 small red chilli
• 2 tbsp chopped coriander
• 1 tbsp sweet paprika• 1 tbsp ground cumin
• 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 2 bay leaves torn in half
• half tsp saffron threads( soaked in a little water)
• 125 ml olive oil • salt

1 small chicken (1–1.2 kg)
2 tomatoes, 1 chopped, 1 sliced
2 onions, 1 chopped, 1 sliced
2 large potatoes, cut into wedges
150 g pitted green olives
1 bunch coriander, chopped
250 ml water
1 preserved lemon, rind only (rinsed and cut into 6 or 8 wedges)

How to prepare this recipe:
Combine the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend until finely chopped and thoroughly combined. Leave for 30 minutes before using.

Wash and dry the chicken. Cut out the backbone and trim off the wing tips and any excess fat. Chop chicken into pieces. Place in a bowl and rub with half of the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or ideally overnight (if you have the time).

Combine the chopped tomato and onion with a little more marinade and spread over the base of a tajine. Arrange the chicken pieces in the centre of the tajine. Coat the potato wedges in a little more marinade and arrange around the chicken. Top with the sliced onion, then the sliced tomato, and push the olives into the gaps.
Combine the remaining marinade with the coriander and water and pour over the top. Decorate with preserved lemon wedges.
Cover the tajine with the lid and cook over a very low heat on the stove for 1 hour. Don’t stir or lift the lid during cooking.

Serve with fluffy cous cous and fresh bread for dipping that delicious sauce

The story behind this recipe;

One of my most memorable food experiences happened when I backpacked through Morocco a few years ago with a friend.
A young guy approached myself and my friend in Essaouira, an exotic town full of character and right on the coast. He just wanted to practice his english and we chatted for a while about where we were from etc. He wanted to show us a real experience in his country and he offered to cook us a traditional Moroccan Tagine in his home.
He explained that he’d like to take us go through the local markets and show us a 'real experience', and shows us how local Moroccans really live. I was a little doubtful at the beginning, but we gave him a chance.

The afternoon turned out to be one of my most memorable food experiences I've ever had. We had a wonderful time wandering through the markets. We selected a plump chicken from a little old lady, my local guide assuring me that they were the freshest chickens in town. We then haggled for spices in the bazarr, choosing only the brightest, freshest available. We finished at a small rusty door on the side of the street only to discover upon entering that it was a small bakery with a huge underground stone oven. Men were running in and out with carts and bamboo baskets full of the freshest bread rolls. I'm guessing they were making deliveries to families all over town.

We bought some bread rolls to enjoy with dinner, and they were still warm and soft. The rest of the evening was spent in his modest little apartment preparing the tagine, which we then left to cook for around an hour or so.

We sat on the roof top of his apartment playing guitar and gazing across the rooftops of the whole town. My friend and I sat with him and shared the delicious tagine meal around a small table.
We tore fresh bread and ate together and chatted about life. It was a priceless experience, and I'm pleased I was part of it.

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