TAJINE OF CHICKEN, WALNUTS & PRUNES
I was served a version of this dish in Rabat whilst on my most recent trip to Northern Morocco. It's essentially a sweet dish, balanced by some sour from the pomegranate molasses. In the absence of molasses, some lemon juice would work well too.
There is also a version of this recipe in Paula Wolfert's bible The Food of Morocco. For anyone looking for a brilliant cookbook that explores and showcases the brilliance of Moroccan cuisine, I'd highly recommend it. It has several chapters dedicated to tajine cooking, and I've yet to have a recipe that hasn't come out brilliantly for me.
- A couple of pinches of saffron
- A pinch of light brown sugar
- 50ml olive oil
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1kg chicken thighs, bone-in
- Flaked salt & black pepper
- 120g dried prunes
- 75g shelled walnuts, toasted & roughly chopped
- 200g carrots, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch slices on the angle
- 30ml pomegranate molasses
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
- A small handful of coriander, chopped
Start by grinding saffron threads & brown sugar with a mortar and pestle to form a fine powder. Transfer to a small bowl, add 75ml of boiling water and leave to infuse for a minimum of 15 minutes and up to several hours.
Heat the oil over medium heat and fry the shallot until soft, translucent and slightly caramelised (about 5-7 minutes). Add the turmeric, cumin and cinnamon and mix well.
Season the chicken thighs with salt and black pepper and add to the pan, skin-side down. Sear until coloured golden brown, then turn and seal the chicken on all sides.
Add 500ml of freshly boiled water, bring to a simmer and cook gently, covered, for 35-45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the meat pulls away from the bone with ease.
Add the prunes, toasted walnuts and carrots, return to the boil, and simmer over low heat, covered, for 40 minutes until dried fruit and carrots are softened.
Remove half of the prunes and transfer to a bowl, then mash (using the back of a fork) with the pomegranate molasses, maple syrup, saffron water and some cooking liquor. Add back to the pan and stir through.
Cook for a further 5-10 minutes to reduce the sauce to a thick gravy.
Garnish with chopped coriander and a drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately.