By Freya Bellin
I’ve had several variations of tagine, but this one is easily my favorite, thanks to spot-on seasoning and the unusual addition of bulgur. This spice blend is deliciously aromatic, filling my kitchen (not to mention the hallway leading up to the apartment) with an irresistible sweetness. The raisins plump up beautifully and complement the cinnamon and ginger. The chicken thighs become super tender from being browned and then braised. Yet the real winner for me was the bulgur. It makes a great hearty base for the other ingredients and manages to absorb all the flavors of the stew. My only suggestion for varying this recipe would be to add a dash of cayenne pepper to the spice blend for a little heat and contrast to the natural sweetness. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Chickpea Tagine with Chicken and Bulgur
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 11⁄2 hours with cooked or canned beans, largely unattended
Braise precooked (or canned) chickpeas and chicken in a North African spice mixture and the chickpeas disintegrate, the chicken becomes fork-tender, and everything is intensely flavored. It’s an extraordinary dish and made even more so by the bulgur, which is cooked right in the stewing liquid.
2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained, with liquid reserved
2 cups bean-cooking liquid, stock, or water, or more as needed
Salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 bone-in chicken thighs
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon cumin
11⁄2 teaspoons coriander
11⁄2 teaspoons cinnamon
1⁄2 cup raisins, chopped dates, or currants
1 cup chopped tomatoes (canned are fine; include their juice)
1⁄2 cup bulgur
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
1. Put the beans and the liquid in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Adjust the heat so the mixture barely bubbles.
2. Meanwhile, put the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet. Cook, turning and rotating as necessary, until it’s brown on both sides, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the chicken to the pot of beans.
3. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons fat from the skillet. Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, raisins, and tomato; cook and stir just long enough to loosen any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the mixture to the beans and adjust the heat so the mixture returns to a gentle bubble.
4. Cover the pot and cook, checking occasionally to make sure the mixture is bubbling gently, for 20 to 30 minutes. Stir the bulgur into the bottom of the pot; it should be covered with about 1 inch of liquid. If not, add more water. Cover and cook until the chicken is tender and the bulgur is done, another 10 to 15 minutes. Serve each chicken thigh with a big spoonful of the chickpea mixture and garnish with parsley.