Chicken tagine (or tajine) is a dish named for the clay pot in which it was cooked.
What clay pot? That earthenware cooking vessel that you see in the photo above. The pot has two parts: the bottom part which looks like a pie dish and the lid shaped like an inverted cone.
The tagine is popularly used in Northern African cooking (Moroccan, especially). It can be used on the stovetop or in the oven. The heavy lid which should fit the bottom part snugly traps the moisture in resulting in succulent meat.
If you don’t have a tagine, you can still cook this dish in any heavy pot with a thick bottom and a cover that fits snugly. The important thing is to allow as little steam to escape as the chicken is meant to cook very slowly in its own juices and the yogurt.
I chose very traditional Moroccan spices to go with my chicken — cumin, paprika and cardamon. Plus, a stick of cinnamon. Of course, you can experiment with other spices.
When properly seasoned, the tagine is like a non-stick pan. Just coat the bottom with a little oil and add the chicken.
One one side of the chicken is lightly browned, flip them over to brown the other side. Browning caramelizes the natural sugars in meat that results in deeper flavors, richer color and better texture.
Once the chicken is browned, add the spices.
Next, pour in the yogurt.
And add the vegetables.
The yogurt and the juices from the chicken and vegetables are the only liquids required to cook the chicken through. Low heat. No stirring required.
Can you imagine the concentration of flavors?
- 6 chicken thighs
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1/2 cup sweet peas
- 1 carrot peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- juice of one lemon to garnish
- Rub the chicken with some salt.
- Heat the olive oil in the tagine.
- Add the chicken and cook over medium heat on both sides just until they are lightly browned.
- Sprinkle in the cumin, paprika and cardamom
- Pour in the yogurt.
- Add the peas and cubed carrot.
- Sprinkle with salt. Cover the tagine, turn down the heat to the lowest setting and allow the chicken to cook very slowly for about 40 minutes.
- Squeeze a lemon over the chicken and vegetables before serving.
- Enjoy the chicken tagine with pita or rice.