Algerian chicken tagine with apricots

Balanced nutritional recipe for a healthy diet

North-African tagines are superb. Best eaten with plain couscous, a slow-burning carbohydrate which is ideal for training, they are really easy to cook, temptingly aromatic and they make the kitchen smell gorgeous. A tagine pot is nice to have but not a necessity — any good heavy-bottomed casserole dish will do. Hot and sultry summer's evening or chilly autumn night, this dish is equally appealing, conjuring up dreams of exotic holidays.

Algerian chicken tagine with apricots

Also the combination of chicken with apricots and fresh coriander provides a good balance of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals and the addition of the couscous balances the meal perfectly.

Method

1. Coat the chicken in the flour, heat 2 tbs oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole dish and brown gently.

2. Remove the chicken and then sauté the onion with the bay leaf until soft.

3. Add the garlic, ginger and the ras-el-hanout spice mix (this is a north-African spice mix that you can buy in most supermarkets now. If you can't find it, use Schwartz Moroccan spice mix or make your own combination with a selection of the following: cumin, coriander, fennel, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, chili) and sauté for a couple of minutes until you smell a delicious aroma being released.

4. Add the chicken, the saffron and enough stock to cover the chicken. Bring to the boil, cover and put in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. Halfway through the cooking, add the apricots.

5. Prepare the couscous — rinse in cold water and then place in a bowl with the salt and the butter. Pour over 150ml boiling water and leave for 5 minutes (check pack for exact quantity of water and how long to leave it). Fluff up the couscous gently with a fork, adding the almonds as you do so.

6. When the chicken is cooked, add a spoonful of honey and the orange flower water and cook for a few more minutes. Boil down the juice if too thin, spoon off any excess fat and then add the fresh coriander.

7. Taste for seasoning. You may want to add more spice, or a little preserved lemon, finely chopped.

8. Serve with the couscous and a fresh rocket salad.

Ingredients

  • 4 free-range chicken thighs or 2 chicken quarters, on the bone
  • 1 tbs flour, season with pinch of salt, pepper and paprika
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 pinch saffron, soaked in a little boiling water for 10 minutes
  • ½ tsp paprika (or better still, Spanish smoked paprika)
  • 2 tsp ras-el-hanout spice mix
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • Chicken stock
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Handful of ready-soaked, dried apricots, halved
  • Handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • Splash of orange flower water (optional)

For the couscous:

  • 125g couscous (wholemeal if you can get it)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Knob of butter
  • Handful of flaked almonds, roasted in the oven at 180°C for 5 minutes

Vital Statistics

Serves: 2
Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes browning; 30-40 minutes in oven
Difficulty: Relatively easy
Good for: Equally good for training, endurance or an informal dinner party

Calories (kcal): 808.6
Protein (g): 66.1
Carbs (g): 95.2
Fat (g): 18.7
Fiber (g): 4.6

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