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Unveiling the tagine and couscous

I was thinking the other day… Every time I make my Moroccan Faux-Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives and Harissa Flavoured Couscous with Raisins and Pine Nuts, I need both recipes in front of me, on the same page. And they never are! Because, one of them is a main and the other one is a side dish. So, I decided to re-publish them together in one post to make them more accessible.

But, first things first…

Here’s the video of the last time I made Moroccan Faux-Chicken and Harissa Flavoured Couscous with Raisins and Pine Nuts and it’s called Unveiling the Tagine. Enjoy!

The Tagine
Whether you have two recipes together or not, you will still need a tagine (see photo below). But what is a tagine? We need to talk about this first.

Well, it is a two-piece traditional North African cooking pot with a conic lid. They are mainly made out of clay –mine isn’t but I actually have a clay baking dish and it smells so bad every time I use it, so who cares?

Tagine is not just a cooking vessel either. You cook and serve your tagine dishes in it. Tagine also refers to cooking style which is one of those healthy cooking methods as you retain the nutrients like you would in a slow cooker and not much oil is required either. Apart from being healthy and nutritious, they say that cast iron gives tagine dishes a unique flavour too.


Now, let’s move on to Moroccan Faux-Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives recipe. Actually, this tagine dish of mine was included in VeganMoFo’s round up in 2013 and Mo who picked my recipe, wrote this:

“Check it. I’ve had a rough month/week/day, so when I went looking for round up goodness…comforting foods just kinda spoke to me. It all started with this beautiful Moroccan faux-chicken over at VegFusion. Are you kidding me, son?! I totally want to buy a clay tagine and make wonderful things in it now.”

And, now for the recipe of Moroccan Faux-Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives:

A few tips before you start:
Go easy on the salt because preserved lemons and olives are salty already. I only used a pinch while I was browning the onions. The other reason for going easy on salt is, the dish is quite fragrant due to all those spices. You won’t need anything else.
While you are mixing the spices, use a glove. There is turmeric in the mix and it takes about 2-3 days for that yellowness to disappear. I have lost 3 fingers to that yellow monster myself.

Things to do if you are using a clay tagine:
• If you are using a clay tagine, the bottom part of it should be soaked in water overnight.
• You will also need a heat diffuser and it should be placed on the heating element –between the heat and the tagine –to prevent the tagine from cracking.

Moroccan Faux-Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives

2 large pieces from a pack Sayur Vegetarian Chicken
1 tablespoon light vegetable oil

1 teaspoon paprika (I didn’t have paprika, used a mixture of ground chilli and sweet paprika)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespon light olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/3 cup pitted green olive, soaked in water for a few hours, rinsed and chopped
3 wedges preserved lemon (I used Blue Kitchen band), rinsed in cold water, pulp discarded and rind into thin strips
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup raisins
½ water
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 twigs flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 twig fresh coriander, chopped

• Combine all the spices in a large flat plate. Spread evenly.
• Pat dry the vegetarian chicken pieces and cut them into almost equal 8 pieces. Place them on the plate, coat well with the spice mixture. Let the vegetarian chicken stand for one hour in the spices.
• Heat the oil in the bottom part of the tagine and add the vegetarian chicken pieces. Fry until they are crispy on both sides. You will need to press each piece to create even frying surface as they have wrinkles.
• When the pieces are cooked nice and crispy, remove them from the tagine and set aside.
• Wipe the tagine with paper towel and add 1 tablespoon of oil. If there are any tiny little pieces of vegetarian chicken in the tagine, make sure you wipe them all off.
• Add the onions, olives, strips of preserved lemons, raisins and garlic -and if you are going to add a pinch of salt, this is the time to do so. Fry for a few minutes and return the chicken pieces back to the tagine.
• Drizzle with water and turn down the heat. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
• When done, sprinkle the whole dish with fresh coriander and parsley. Serve hot with couscous.


Harissa Flavoured Couscous with Raisins and Pine Nuts

½ teaspoon harissa spice mix
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
1/4 cup dark seedless raisins
1 tablespoon vegan margarine
1 cup couscous
1 tablespoon pine nuts

• Dry toast the pine nuts until they are slightly golden. Remove and set aside.
• Combine 1 1/4 cups water with harissa spice mix, turmeric, cumin, salt, raisins and vegan margarine in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
• Stir in couscous; remove from heat.
• Add pine nuts, then cover. Let stand 5 minutes.
• Using a fork, fluff couscous and place in a serving bowl.


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