I’ve acquired a love of North African food after visiting Tunisia and Morocco a few times, so when I was at Le Palmier restaurant in Marseille I ordered both the couscous and the chicken and fig tagine, though traditionally they’re not supposed to go together. Hence this pairing!
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
pinch chilli flakes
pinch ground allspice
8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
150g ready-to-eat dried figs
pinch saffron threads
500ml chicken stock (see the book for homemade)
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
30g flaked almonds, lightly toasted
1 sweet potato
1 red pepper, seeded
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp ras-el-hanout
5cm cinnamon stick
pinch chilli flakes
750ml chicken stock
1/2-1 tsp salt
small handful fresh coriander
leaves, roughly chopped
1. Mix the spices for the chicken in a bowl. Add the chicken thighs and rub the spices into them, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
2. Heat a large tagine or casserole dish with a tablespoon of the oil. Brown the chicken pieces all over, then remove them from the pan. Add the remaining oil and fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat until softened but not browned. Put the chicken back in the pan and add the figs, saffron and chicken stock.
3. Cover with a lid and cook over a low to medium heat for about 40 minutes. If there is too much liquid, continue to cook, uncovered, to reduce.
4. For the couscous, cut the vegetables into 3cm pieces. Melt the butter in a pan and fry the sliced onion with the spices for 4-5 minutes. Add the stock, salt and vegetables, bring to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Drain and collect the stock in a jug. Keep the vegetables warm.
5. Put the couscous in a bowl and ladle some of the stock – about 500ml, depending on the couscous – over it. Cover and leave the couscous to stand for 5-10 minutes to swell up, then fluff with a fork. Spoon the vegetables over the couscous and add a little extra stock. Garnish with coriander.
6. Sprinkle the chicken tagine with toasted sesame seeds and almonds and serve it with the couscous.
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