Sunday, October 23, 2005
We had guests over last night for a traditional Moroccan "breaking of the fast." On normal nights, breaking the fast is a much less elaborate affair, though we try to always have one or more of the following elements. We started the meal with a spicy bowl of harira, a hearty soup made with tomatoes, lentils, meat, and chickpeas, hard boiled eggs flavored with cumin, salt and pepper, dates and figs, a banana milkshake, lemon pound cake, and the famous "pancake with a thousand holes," also known as "bghrir." (This intriguing pancake is made with semolina and yeast; the batter rises for two hours and then when it's fried up it gets little bubbles all over the surface-- hence its name). All of these items might be found on a Moroccan table, even the lemon pound cake, known in my husband's family as mskuta although there, not flavored with lemon. After stuffing ourselves full of tasty carbs, we waited for awhile and then served chicken tagine with lemon and olives, along with fresh, round loaves of Moroccan wheat bread.
Nour and I spent almost six hours preparing, although for him the preparation was considerably more difficult because he was fasting AND the air conditioning system was broken (welcome to Florida, 85 degrees yesterday, and a hurricane on the way). I was thrilled with the way everything turned out, and each recipe was a keeper, particularly the chicken and olive tagine and the lemon pound cake. Our guests, one of whom was Moroccan, raved about the tagine. Nour made the harira, which was terrific, although I didn't write down the quantities yet so I can't report how it was made. I will write about the terrific lemon pound cake on another day, but for now, here's how to make an authentic (and easy) Moroccan chicken tagine that will leave your guests fainting with happiness... Moroccans eat tagines with bread-- couscous would not be served with this, although you can really do whatever you want if you feel you need a side carb.
Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Lemon & Olives
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
3 pounds chicken pieces, cut up
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. pepper
10-14 ounces green olives without pits (with pimiento is fine; although not traditional, it doesn't affect the taste too much)
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
In a Dutch oven, saute garlic in a generous slug of olive oil over medium heat until beginning to turn golden. Add tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes more, until softening. Add chicken, turmeric, and pepper, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes over low heat, turning occasionally.
Add about a cup of water to almost cover the chicken, then add olives. Cover and simmer 30 minutes, turning occasionally. Add lemon juice and cilantro, uncover and cook 15 minutes more, reducing the sauce so that it thickens slightly. Serve with crusty baguette for dipping.
Posted by Rachel at 6:11 PM