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Tajine sans tajine, the easy DIY approach!

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ChrisFlanders View Drop Down
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    Posted: 09 May 2012 at 05:41
Yesterday was a "home-alone" day. Time for some innocent experiments. How about making a tajine without a tajine, that's what the title of this thread means. There's the preparation called tajine and there's the cooking pot, also called tajine. You don't need that typical conical pot to make a tajine at all. So here is a one persons home-alone portion (mine). No cookbook used, simply improvised, something you can do as well with a lot of other ingredients!

Tajine of chicken with preserved lemons and bell pepper

Here is what you need: Red bell pepper peeled and deseeded, one chicken breast cut in 3 strips lenghtwise, onion in thin slices, fresh chili pepper deseeded in tiny brunoise, slices of preserved lemon, peel only. There were also a handful of black olives, pips still in (I'm home alone), 2 cloves of garlic, unpeeled but a little crushed, a teaspoon of spice mix that went on the chicken and a tablespoon of fresh herb "citronelle" or balm in english (in dutch: citroen melisse), now growing abundantly in my garden.

One remark on the lemon peel: I bought the lemons a few days ago in my favorite ethnic shop. They had a large container of these small lemons in salty brine. These are not cut in 4 as usual. You could use these lemons as a whole, but the pulp is still quite salty, so I cut it out and used the peel only, which is most common. The pulp goes to your neighbour's cat.

Preparing the chicken

Use a frying pan first. Fry the chicken shortly on all sides on medium high fire. Add salt and pepper and a spice mix you like, mine has a lot of turmeric in it and lots of other spices. Don't fry the meat all the way, it has to be half-done!! Take out of the pan and set aside.

Preparing the tajine

Use a normal everyday cooking pot. Quickly fry the onions on medium fire without coloring in hot oil. Add the chili brunoise and let fry a moment. Add the bell pepper and fry another few minutes. Now add around 1/2 cup of water, no stock, we want clean flavours. Add salt and pepper, garlic, a handful of black olives, the pre-cooked chicken on top, the slices of lemon peel on top of the chicken. Let simmer on low fire until the meat is nicely done. If the liquid is too low, add a few more tbsp of water.

Preparing the bulghur

Yep, I used bulghur this time, no couscous, but feel free to use whatever you like. Both are very different! Let's say that couscous is some kind of pasta (flour and water mixture) and bulghur is ground wheat that was soaked and dried again. The preparation for both is the same but bulghur can have a tad more water. Bulghur has a fantastic "nutty" flavour.

Always start by measuring the ratios. I used a one-person's-home-alone portion of 1 normal coffee cup of water plus a tiny splash more. Bring that to a boil with a little salt. Now add 1 coffee cup of bulghur and gently rain it in the boiling water. Let boil 3 seconds and set aside, tightly covered. When all the water is absorbed, loosen the grains with your hands or a fork, add a good dash of olive oil and seasoning as you like.

Serve on a soup plate and sprinkle with fresh herbs you have at hand. I used finely cut lemon balm straight from the garden. A part went into the bulghur, the rest over the dish. Plate carefully, home alone or not, arranging all elements nicely, chicken on top, lemon peel on top of the chicken, herbs on top of that.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 06:05
Sounds great as usual, Chris.

And a very good tip about tajineless tajines. At base, a tagine is just a braise, and there's no reason not to use a regular covered pot or Dutch oven. Low and slow is the whole secret.

One addition to your post: In my experience, when making tagines in a regular pot, slightly more liquid is needed than the same dish made in a tagine. So it may have to be monitored to assure the dish doesn't dry out as it cooks.
But we hae meat and we can eat
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 07:19
Nicely done ChrisThumbs Up, and I agree with you on the preserved lemon...I normally use peel only.

I sometimes use green olives as well as the black, and innumerable other ingredients go well with this type of dish.

I like dried apricots as well, and sometimes some thinly sliced almonds for a bit of a crunch.
Go ahead...play with your food!
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AK1 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 09:48
Nice job Chris - that sounds very tasty.

You've reminded me that I need to make another batch of preserved lemons.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 09:57
i love the versatility ~ my lemons are ready, so i have no more excuses not to start with maghreb cooking!
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ChrisFlanders View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChrisFlanders Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 10:09

Thank you guys, well I hope I may have inspired some people to try something like that. It's so easy and yet so rewarding and all with so few ingredients.

I would make a dish like that for any dinner guest. The dish can be made in our modern cookware but may well be served in a tajine to contribute to the pleasure.

Tajines are indeed no more than braises, so key word is slóooooooow. The remaining braising liquid is always so delicious!

While making this, I was wondering if there wasn't an alternative for the preserved lemons so everyone can enjoy this. I know in pâtisserie they use the zeste from fresh lemons and boil them for around 10 seconds, drain and cool under cold water and repeat the same procedure a second time to get rid of the harsh taste. Many times a third round is added, this time boiling in sugarwater. Maybe if you boil the zeste from fresh lemons a few times in salted water, you could have a nice alternative. To be tried out?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 April 2019 at 16:56


27 / 04 / 2019. 

This is Saturday´s lunch. 

Definitely a lovely versión of Chicken Tagine. 


Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.
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Margi Cintrano View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 May 2019 at 09:39

Tas, 

This is a truly elegant dish.   

I  subbed leeks and shallot instead of onion.

I used Spanish red peppers ( bells ) instead of green.  

The rest of the récipe I followed to a tee .. 100% .. 

Stunningly sublime exquisite dish.  

This should be on your chicken to do list  !!  
Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.
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