Tajine: Chicken with Harissa and Apricots

Moroccan flavors favor the spices used in Indian cooking like coriander, saffron, and cumin. I love these aromatic spices and the heavenly aroma.  I own a beautiful clay tagine bought from a friend who carried it from Morocco,  It makes such a beautiful presentation and keeps the dish juicy and moist.

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A tajine or tagine is a Maghrebi dish which is named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. The pot has a unique conical shape which helps make your dish moist by letting the steam rise, condense and trickle back down into the shallow base.

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I used my tagine right on the burner but have experimented with putting it directly in the oven at 300 degrees F. Of course then you can’t see the beautiful pot simmering on your stove 🙂

Onions are a must in a tagine using them as a bed for the chicken, also layer in cut carrots and fresh cut fennel. Chicken thighs and leg are the best pieces to use to keep it all moist and juicy

The spices are simple, ground coriander, cumin, fennel,  cayenne and some ras-el-hanout if you have it.

Watch this 20 sec video to get the real cooking experience of using a tagine.

Tajine: Chicken i

  • Servings: many
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

a beautifully slow cooked chicken immersed in fragrant spices

Ingredients

  • 10 pieces of chicken legs and thighs
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp fresh ground ginger
  • ½ tsp saffron, bloomed in a little warm water
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ras-el-hanout
  • 1 tsp harissa paste
  • 2 carrots chopped in 1 inch pieces
  • 1 fennel bulb chopped in large pieces
  • 5 – 10 pieces of dried apricots
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsley or cilantro
  • About 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • Pink salt

Directions

  • Marinate the chicken pieces for a couple of hours ( overnight is best) in 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tbsp fennel powder, 1 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp garlic, and salt.
  • Lightly brown the chicken pieces in olive oil and set aside
  • Heat a tagine on low/medium heat.
  • Add 2-3 tbsp oil, ghee and then the onions. Let the onions sweat for about 5 mins.
  • Add the remaining crushed garlic and ginger and  then add the turmeric and harissa paste and ras-el-hanout
  • Add chicken pieces and pour in the saffron
  • Put the tajine on a diffuser ( I used a small baking pan) and turn down the heat to low-medium
  • Cover and let it cook at low for about 2 hrs. Adjust the salt as you go.
  • In the last 20 mins or so add the apricots.
  • Add lemon juice and serve sprinkled with parsley with a side of rice or bread
  • It tastes even better the next day!

Sharing at  Angie’s Fiesta Friday where our co-hosts this week are Lizet @ Chipa by the dozen and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Falafel with Spinach and Cilantro

Who doesn’t love falafels?? A plant-based vegan protein-packed food that is ever so delicious. Whether it is in sandwiches or salad toppings or cooked in sauce, falafels are versatile and very easy to make at home.

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Did you know Chickpeas are the oldest consumed crop in the world? Besides the historical fact, they do help keep you full and balance your blood sugar levels. Add spinach and fresh herbs to that and you are looking at a nutrient loaded food that is so good for your body.

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I was experimenting with a healthier version that is not deep fried and these turned out amazing.

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  • Servings: many
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A nutrient and power packed versatile food .

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of dried garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup of chopped cilantro and parsley
  • 1 packed cup of fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 5-7 cloves of garlic
  • 1 whole jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp Himalayan salt ( adjust to taste)
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1-2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
  • Grapeseed oil for frying

 

Directions

  • Soak the garbanzo overnight in 1 tbsp of baking powder
  • Rinse when ready to make and set aside
  • In a food processor add the soaked garbanzo with the rest of the ingredients except for the sesame seeds and process into a paste.
  • The olive oil should be enough to hold the dough together ( if the dough is too soft you can add some chickpea flour to bind it)
  • Roll into balls add the sesame seeds to coat.
  • Let the balls chill in the fridge for 30 mins.
  • You can deep fry these but I use a cast iron pancake pan (Takoyaki Pan) to fry these to keep it healthier.
  • Serve with a tahini garlic sauce or a yogurt mint sauce.

Joining the Fiesta Friday party with cohost  Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.top 20 tips

Salmon with Arugula Walnut Sauce

A beautiful filet of wild salmon, some fresh organic zucchini and arugula were the inspiration for this plate.

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I am always looking to add spices and tastes from my heritage to my cooking when I can.

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I also grew up with beautiful large walnuts trees which first gave the succulent raw walnuts which are white in the interior and then the beautiful dried ones that we all know so well. Walnuts are a staple in my pantry, I buy in bulk and keep them in the freezer.

The sauce is a play on the flavors of cumin and mustard to start with and then the flesh spiciness of arugula an garlic pulls it all together. It will stay in the fridge for a while to be used on salads and others dishes during the week so do invest in making a batch.

 

IMG_8823_HDRI have used 3 organic zucchinis so you will have leftovers for the week. The zucchini is inspired by Ayurveda which calls for simple ingredients. I have used clarified butter, cumin, mustard and fresh curry leaves….. the flavor is just amazing

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Salmon with Arugula Walnut Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A simple pan-seared Salmon served with Zucchini and a Walnut Arugula Pesto .

Ingredients

Salmon

  • 2 fillets of wild salmon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoon Grapeseed oil

Zucchini

  • 3 organic zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon Ghee ( clarified butter)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 mustard seeds
  • 10 pieces curry leaves
  • Himalayan salt to taste

Sauce

  • 1 bunch Arugula
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 red o1-inch
  • inch piece of Feta cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Pat fillets dry with a paper towel. Season on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Run the ingredients for the sauce through the food processor adding water if needed and set aside. I like the taste Feta brings to this sauce but do adjust to your own taste
  3. Chop the zucchini into bite size pieces. In a skillet, add Ghee, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves.
  4. When the spice starts to splutter add the cut zucchini and sauté on medium heat until tender. Salt to taste as you go,
  5. Put a cast-iron skillet or heavy pan over high heat. Add grapeseed oil and when the oil is hot the fillets in the pan, flesh side down and let sear for 1 minute. Flip to skin side down and let it cook for 3-4 minutes until the skin is crisp.
  6. To serve, plate the sauce and layer on the zucchini topped with the Salmon.

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Easy Recipes

Sharing this at Fiesta Friday with  Ginger  and Julianna

Za’atar Roasted Chicken and Cauliflower

We are waiting for spring on the east coast so patiently but it keeps testing our patience. The first day of spring has come and gone bringing beautiful snow with it…..cold days, blossoms annoyed to be out in this cold and leaves struggling to show their faces.. I am trying to brighten up the “almost spring” spirit with some amazing fresh ingredients and flavorful spices like Za’atar.

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Za’atar is a blend of herbs and seeds often used in the Middle Eastern cooking. I bought my Za’atar mix from a local middle eastern store but you can always make it at home and use your variations of this herb and spice blend. Typically, za’atar is a blend of dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, and salt. Mine also included roasted flour.IMG_8849-1

The lemon zest is a key ingredient enhancing the flavors so beautifully so don’t skip that.

The chicken comes out tender and juicy, and you can prep this recipe a day or 2 ahead on time, keeping it in the fridge until you are ready to roast

 

IMG_8845-1The cauliflower steak is also as simple as it can be, sliced, sprinkled with the spice blend and roasted until brown. It is a delicious, healthy and gluten-free side for any occasion.

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I do tend to make and store a lot of fermented foods so served it with a side of grated Daikon radish pickle.  You can find some of my pickle recipes on my blog

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Za’atar Roasted Chicken and Cauliflower

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A spice and lemon roasted chicken, tender and juicy accompanied by roasted cauliflower .

Ingredients

Chicken:

  • I whole chicken skin on cut up in pieces
  • 2 tablespoon Za’atar spice blend
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon crushed fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Pink Himalayan salt – to taste
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil

Cauliflower:

  • 1 head of organic cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon Za’atar
  • 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
  • Pink salt to taste

Directions

  • Make some knife incisions or cuts in the chicken pieces for the marinade to get in. Pat dry.
  • Mix all the ingredient together for the chicken and rub it in the chicken pieces thoroughly.
  • Store overnight or longer
  • Roast at 400 degrees for 45 -55 minutes until golden brown
  • Slice the cauliflower like large steak pieces
  • Sprinkle with the Zataar spice and some grapeseed oil on both sides.
  • Roast at 400 degrees for 30 mins or until browned  slightly
  • Serve beautifully

You can serve this with a salad or pickles. I have here some Diakon Pickle with fresh radishes and an arugula walnut pesto ( will post the recipe soon).

This is a fun week for another reason. There is a fab party at Angie’s Fiesta Friday and I am co-hosting with Petra. Petra’s blog has one of the most creative recipes with fresh ingredients that I have seen and so do check it out!

Cauliflower Pizza with Asparagus, Kale and Mushrooms

Ok…. so this is not much of a recipe but more of the art of putting it all together…but I just had to post. Such an amazing crunch and taste that it leaves you craving for more. And it is healthy, nutritious and scrumptious. If Gluten bothers you, this is GF.

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My cauliflower pizza base is Cauliflower and Corn flour from Trader Joes or Moms Organic market. On my trip to MOMs, I brought back beautiful garlic, asparagus, fresh Kale, Jalapeño, and mushrooms.  I had some Parmesan and Halloumi in the fridge so putting this together was a breeze.

Note this is not a typical pizza smothering in tomato sauce and cheese. This one showcases the beautiful vegetables so adjust if you need more of the cheeses or add some tomato sauce.

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The Kale and chopped mushrooms need to be sautéed in chopped garlic with a pinch of salt and set aside.

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Slice or chop some Asparagus, Jalapeño, Roma tomato and set aside

Slice the cheeses.

Cook the crust according to instruction until it is firm and slightly crisp. The TJ version had me cook at 450 degrees and flip the crust to cook 12 mins on each side. That was perfect

Top the crust with veggies and cheese and put under a broiler for 3-4 mins.

Douse with some good avocado or olive oil and red chili flakes.

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Enjoy

Sharing at Fiesta Friday featuring Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Alex @ Turks Who Eat as co-hosts this week.

 

Kashmiri Tangy Eggplants – Chok Wangun

My love for eggplants keeps me experimenting with new recipes from around the globe. This one is close to my heart and soul and so very easy to make.

IMG_8318-5Frying eggplants will fill your kitchen with an amazing aroma. I often chow down a few slices even before they make their way to the dish.

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This recipe has the flavor of cloves, ginger, and fennel and is a delicate yet strong blend to showcase the eggplants. The tamarind paste is what adds the tanginess. Use it to your taste.

Tip: Be careful not to burn the cloves or the chili powder but adding water quickly.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 eggplants – long or 8 small
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp ginger powder
  • 2 tbsp fennel powder
  • 2 tbsp red chili powder
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 4 black cardamoms
  • 1 tsp black cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • Salt – to taste.
  • Mustard oil

 

Putting it together:

  • Soak the tamarind paste in 1/2 cup hot water. Put aside.
  • Chopped and fry the onion until golden brown and make a paste of the fried onions adding a dash of water
  • Cut the eggplants lengthwise into 3 to 4-inch lengths – keeping a part of stem on the end pieces.
  • Heat the mustard oil until smoking and deep fry the eggplants until golden brown. Drain on paper towels
  • In a wide pan take  3 tbsp of the remaining oil and bring to medium heat
  • Add the cloves, red chili powder and salt. Add 2 cups of water immediately not letting the red chilies burn. Add the garlic, turmeric and cardamoms fennel powder, ginger powder, onion paste and continue to cook for 10 mins adding 2 more cups of water if needed.
  • Add the eggplants and tamarind water and cook for 5 -10 mins to get to a saucy consistency.
  • Serve with a garnish of green chilies with white rice or roti.IMG_8320-6

Matar Paneer Curry – Peas and Cheese

Sometimes the simpler the food the more rewarding for your taste buds.  Visons of many a beautiful vegetarian tables with paneer, lentils and pickles seems to stay with me.  The memories range from  restaurants to friends houses after school, to street side travel shacks and many more…..but they are always vivid and connect me to a rich past.

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Growing up our family were big meat eaters…it would not be “food” without lamb or chicken 🙂 However, every now and then we would have a vegetarian day where Paneer would be the showcase.

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When I first moved to the US, store bought  paneer (cheese)  was not an option so making the paneer at home was the only way. Don’t get me wrong, homemade cheese is the best but sometimes a working girl needs a premade handy version so dinner can be cooked at moments notice.

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The local Asian stores now have the most amazing Paneer available so I keep a block in the fridge or freezer for quick dinner situations.

 

This is a curry, which as always is spicy, tangy, rich, gentle, soft and ever so delicious.

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I have paired it with butter rice, lentils and pickles. Naan or roti would be perfect with the platter.

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Matar Paneer

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A quick and easy matar paneer

Ingredients

  • 1 block of Paneer cubed ( I used Nanak Paneer)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 large  chopped red onion
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 7-8 garlic cloves – sliced
  • 1 inch ginger – grated
  • 1 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Red chili powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 4 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Directions

Putting it together:

  • Add 2 tbsp oil to a pan on medium heat and add the chopped garlic cloves,  ginger and  onion into the pan and fry this for a few minutes until the onions start to soften.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and little salt, cover the pan and cook the mixture until the tomatoes have softened.
  • Blend this sauce in a food processor ( there should be any need to add water)
  • Using the same pan  add 2 tbsp oil into the pan on medium heat, add
  • Add cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds until they pop, add turmeric coriander and chili powder.
  • Now you can add the prepared tomato sauce mixture and bring the mixture together.
  • Throw in the cumin powder and a few tablespoons of water and let it cook for a few minutes. Do stir to ensure it does not start sticking
  • Add yoghurt into the sauce and continue stirring.
  • Add the frozen peas and then the paneer cubes
  • Adjust for salt and water for consistency and cover and  cook the curry for  on low heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with Cilantro and a squeeze of lemon and serve with rice or bread.

 

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Sharing on Fiesta Friday!

great food and discovery of the soul

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