Chicken, butternut squash & date tagine

I have to admit I was inspired by several Moroccan recipes when making this dish, however I still do not have a traditional tagine dish and often wonder if it would work in ordinary European kitchen. Do you, dear readers, have this dish and use it in the oven or on the hob?
This dish is very easy to make and you can relax in total laziness while waiting for the dinner and smoke a pipe with bored facial expression, making those rings with a smoke. If long you use chicken on the bone the flavour will be more intense but you will wait longer for a dinner. I do not smoke a pipe and wanted this dinner quickly so I used boned chicken thighs.

Serves 3-4

4 tbsp of neutral olive oil
6 chicken thighs fillets (skinless)
2 onions, peeled and cut into wedges
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2.5cm piece root ginger, peeled
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp harissa paste
juice and zest of one lemon
large handful of fresh coriander – leaves and stalks
1 cinnamon stick
400g tin cherry tomatoes (or chopped tomatoes)
about 12 dates, stoned
about 350g butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and chopped into large chunks
freshly ground black pepper

First prepare the spicy paste. In a food processor place: one onion, garlic, ginger, most of the coriander leaves and all coriander stalks, lemon zest and juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, harissa, cumin and paprika. Mix until smooth.

Heat the oven to 180 C (fan).

In large ovenproof dish with a lid heat the remaining olive oil, season the chicken thighs with some salt and pepper and fry on both sides until slightly browned.  Remove from the dish and set aside in a bowl.

Add the whole paste to the pan and fry for about minute or two, next add the onion, squash and tomatoes. Rinse the food processor with some water and add to the pan – you will get all that remains and flavour into the dish and make the sauce less thicker. Next add the chicken with all the juices from the bowl, put the dates on the top, add cinnamon stick and cover. Bring to the boil and place in the oven.  Keep in the oven for about 40 minutes. Chicken on the bone, needs about 60 minutes.

For a change I served it with a quinoa, not a couscous, sprinkled with the remaining coriander leaves.

To be quite honest – it was very tasty, however in this kind of dishes I prefer the prunes or dried apricots. Even some raisins. However tried it yourself with different dried fruits to decide which is your favourite one.


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