I love Chicken Tagine. Whenever we go to Moroccan restaurants, I always get it. There is just something captivating about the saffron, cumin hitting your senses to warm you up on a cold February day. So, when we moved forward to North Africa for Winter; I had to try to tackle this iconic dish.
Before we go into the ingredients and the history; I need to post a clarification for everyone – Tagine is a cooking dish. Often, we associate the name as simply a menu item (Chicken Tagine, for example). However, a Tagine is a clay cooking pot that is recognizable by the tall handle at the top. This is very traditional method of cooking because clay pots are amazing for holding heat; and from a time before modern cooking, maintaining temperature is key.
History of the Tagine
Tagine dishes seem to appear in historical records in the 8th century c.e. throughout the Islamic Empire. We also know that the cookery appeared in Northern Africa, with an ancestor of the dish showing up in the Roman Empire. We have some of these dishes recovered from Antonine Wall in Scotland, from an excavations from the 1970’s through 1980’s, which match what a Tagine looks like. This dates them to the 142 to 150 c.e., which is when the wall was built, then abandoned.
Let’s talk about the Ingredients
So, high-level this dish has a lot of ingredients we have in this region and expect, in dishes from the 8th century c.e. Things like: Saffron, cumin, onions and garlic. One of the more interesting ingredients, shouldn’t have been though: Carrots.
While I was putting together the recipe; it was mentioned in another to use “Rainbow Carrots”. I do love a good trend; but I immediately had to start researching because are these modern frankensteins or what? Actually, no. Carrots, traditionally were not orange. Over generations of selective breeding, the once white carrot became purple, yellow and red, then in the 16th century, orange. This is why for the recipe, I used the purple and yellow, which added some flair to our lives.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Okay, this is going to sound weird, but my favorite part of this dish was the carrots. The broth, onions and carrots packed so much greatness, that the chicken fell short. Then, the couscous. I hate couscous. I have tried to like it over the years but every time, I hate it more. The exception to the rule is Pearled Couscous, but that is not region specific.
4 out of 5 stars
Couscous, what is the point of it? It has no flavor and only added to the dish as something to make the meal a little bit more “stick to the bones”. But with that being said, the rest of the meal was amazing. I expected the carrots to be bitter, but they actually tasted sweet. The chicken was chicken; so nothing new there. The spices for the meal were amazing, even if they couldn’t help the couscous.