Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Mint Couscous

by Kristin on January 8, 2010

I’m forgoing resolutions this year for a motto instead, one my German language teacher used to always say in school — work smarter, not harder. As a freelancer with deadlines always looming, two young children to look after and a house to constantly clean up after them, it’s become something of a necessity these days. One of the ways I’ve been trying to put this into practice is rethinking the kinds of meals I make during the week. I’m not averse to spending time cooking — far from it — but getting dinner on the table with a four-and-a-half-year-old and a 20-month-old who’s becoming more mischievous by the day is getting harder and harder lately. So now I’m looking through my cookbooks with an eye to what can be made quickly, easily and will make enough to have as leftovers the next night, freeing me up to spend more time with the children instead of at the stove. This chicken tagine is one such meal, the kind that’s even better on the second day. Life’s too short for resolutions I won’t keep, but work smarter, not harder are words you can live by.

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Mint Couscous
adapted from Rachel’s Favourite Food for Friends by Rachel Allen

Serves 4 to 6

Rachel Allen says that if you want to prepare this in advance (up to 24 hours), you could make the tomato sauce completely, let it cool (this is important) and toss the raw chicken pieces in it, then cover and put it all in the fridge. While it’s waiting for you, it will be marinating and even improving in flavor.

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 large chicken breasts
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 x 14 oz (400 g) cans of chopped tomatoes
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
lime or lemon wedges, to serve
natural or Greek yogurt, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or pot (one that has a lid) over a medium heat. Season the chicken breasts well with salt and pepper, then add them to the pan (in two batches if you have to) and brown them for a few minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add the carrots, onions, ground coriander, ground cumin, ginger and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper. Stir, then cook on a low heat with the lid on for about 10 minutes, until the onions are soft. Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the tomato paste and chopped tomatoes, then add the chicken breasts back to the pan, nestling them into the sauce so that they’re covered. Cook on a low heat with the lid on, stirring every so often, for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Alternatively, if you want the chicken to become even more tender, cook for about 1 hour, until the chicken falls apart easily when you prod it with a fork (this is how I always make it).

To serve, add most of the chopped cilantro to the pot and stir. Spoon some couscous (see below) onto a plate and spoon the chicken and sauce on top, with a wedge of lemon or lime on the side and a dollop of Greek yogurt and a final sprinkle of cilantro.


Couscous with Lemon and Mint

Serves 4

2 cups (400 g) couscous
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups (500 ml) boiling chicken stock or water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, cilantro or parsley

Place the couscous in a bowl, add the olive oil and lemon juice and mix well to coat the grains. Pour in the boiling stock or water and season with salt and pepper. Cover and allow to sit in a warm place until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff up the couscous with a fork (not a spoon, or it will stay stuck together) and stir in the chopped herbs just before serving.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Lickedspoon January 10, 2010 at 1:36 pm

This looks so delicious, perfect for a cold January day. I like the lemon and mint couscous too, I could imagine serving that with quite a few things. As a fellow freelancer, I too subscribe to your motto ‘work smarter, not harder’. It’s probably the only way to stay sane…

Kristin January 10, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Debora, you know how it goes then – there just aren’t enough hours in the day! I’m trying to find shortcuts anywhere I can these days.

Jenny Dobbins January 15, 2010 at 11:47 am

I haven’t looked at your blog in a while–I was intimidated by some of the early recipes, as I’m a pretty basic cook. But the tagine looks like a perfect recipe for our family, so I’m glad I came back! Thanks for getting me out of a rut!

Mike Seeds September 29, 2010 at 12:23 pm

mm sounds delicious

siobhan December 31, 2010 at 12:43 am

is cilantro the same herb as coriander. It’s
a Christmas argument!


Kristin January 1, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Cilantro is indeed the same as coriander. I hope you won your argument!

Denise @ TLT - The Little Things October 2, 2011 at 8:39 am

Beautiful picture. I love couscous: fast and always good. I have a recipe for moroccan chicken stews on my site as well, aren’t the smells of these dishes lovely?

Kristin October 4, 2011 at 10:37 am

The kitchen certainly does smell good on the day this is cooking – lovely and warm and inviting.

Maria October 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I make this…alot. And it’s great if you want to use chicken Pieces as opposed to using just breast. It’s divine..although I don’t put carrots in it…Trying to get kids to eat it and they’d balk at the carrots, they just about tolerate the onion!

Rachel has some fabulous recipes that are very very easy to cook.

Kristin November 11, 2012 at 11:35 am

Maria, I’m a big fan of Rachel’s first book in particular (although this recipe comes from her second book).

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