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Tagine of chicken with pomegranate and prunes

For this I advise you to use a proper pointy tagine dish but a heavy pan with lid will do if you can not have the real thing. The pointy shape of the dish does concentrate flavours wonderfully and makes a great centrepiece on the dinner table. Do not forget to soak the unglazed underside of the tagine prior to using it to avoid cracking in the feat. I use a heat diffuseur as well over the hob.

A moroccan tagine

A moroccan tagine

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Ingredients list:

  • Onion,1
  • M’rouzia (or Ras El Hanout), 1 tbsp
  • Chicken stock, 1 large glass
  • Passata, 100m
  • salt
  • Olive oil
  • Pomegranate syrup, 2 Tbsp
  • Diced chicken, 1 with bones and skin
  • Celery heart,1 diced
  • Carrots, 3 or 4
  • Prunes, one handful
  • Roasted almonds, one handful
  • Parsley and coriander to serve.

Fry the chicken in a pan with a little olive oil and turn each morsel a few times for about 15 minutes. Toss the M’rouzia mix over and roll the chicken in the spices until coated, add some salt, then reserve.

Lay the sliced onion at the bottom of the dish, place the chicken bits over. Cut up the celery heart and the carrots lengthwise and pile on.

Drain the chicken juice from the frying pan into a jug, add the passata, some more spice mix (M’rouzia is a current favourite but Ras el Hanout is good too). Then blend in some pomegranate syrup or grape molasses – in sale from any good middle-eastern grocer.  You should have about 250ml of liquid. Add a bit of water if you need too, then pour it all over the meat and vegetables.

Cover and cook on low heat for 45 min to 1 hour. Add the prunes at the end and give a little more heat for 5 minutes. Check the liquid level: the juice must be thick and reduced but still there to give moisture to the dish.

To serve, sprinkle with chopped parsley and coriander, a small amount of roasted almonds and 3 tbsp of fresh pomegranate seeds. The mixed fruity and nutty flavours are great against the saltiness of the meat!

You can serve it on it own or with steamed bulgur wheat. I love bulgur and it loves me back: it is impossible to fail and I really like its rough nuttiness better sometime than a silky couscous.

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James Ramsden’s quick spinach curry

My two British food “heroes” are currently and unashamedly, Jamie Oliver and James Ramsden. The first needs no introduction but the second is a very talented blogger and this dish is loosely based on two recipes from his book  “Small adventures in Cooking”.

Ingredients list:

  • Olive oil, 20ml
  • Onion, 1
  • Chickpeas, 1/2 tin
  • Red kidney beans, 1/2 tin
  • Pinto beans, 1/2 tin
  • Tomato puree, 1 Tbsp
  • Spinach, 1/2 tin
  • Coconut milk, 150ml
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Garlic clove 1
  • Curry powder, 1 Tbsp
  • Chilli, 1 pinch
  • salt and pepper

The beans add a nice texture and plenty of protein to this version, but if you have trouble digesting them, just skip!

Melt the chopped onion in a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Add the spices and the beans, then the drained spinach, the crushed garlic, the tomato paste and lemon juice.

Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk towards the end so it does not ever boil.

Serve hot with some naan bread or chapattis.

This curry is delicious re-heated and will keep for a few days in the fridge.

The greatness of this dish is that every ingredient is coming out of a tin and can be stored in your cupboard. Perfect when the fridge has been empty for days because of exam stress! Or just when work is getting out of hand…

I am leaving the country at dawn and throwing this recipe as a life-line to the three men of my life who are going to have to cook for themselves from tomorrow evening!…