I have never been to Morocco. It is on my list of places I want to visit. When I think of Morocco, what immediately comes to mind are fragrant spice markets. I have had the opportunity to explore several Middle Eastern spice markets and taste Mediterranean cuisine from several different countries, but the food from Morocco is different and unique from any other. For anyone who loves the taste of spices, especially a blend of sweet and savory, Moroccan cuisine is a treat. Because tajines are cooked on low for an extended period of time in a tajine (a shallow earthenware pot with a conical lid), they also transition well to a slow cooker.
Though pretty much every ingredient in this tajine is full of nutrients, I have to call special attention to the spices, especially the turmeric and cinnamon. Turmeric is considered one of the world’s healthiest foods for good reason. The compound curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps to protect against heart disease, cancer, and a host of other degenerative diseases that are caused or exacerbated by inflammation in the body. It is also a potent antioxidant that helps protect us from free radicals and oxidative damage. Cinnamon has been shown to help regulate blood sugar and is also a good source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
I adapted this meal from a recipe on allrecipes.com years ago and it never lets me down. It is easy, nutritious, and incredibly flavorful. All the ingredients are easy to find except sultanas, also referred to as golden raisins. It’s necessary that you use sultanas, not regular raisins, and that you don’t skip this important ingredient. Our local Fresh Thyme carries them in their bulk section. I’ve purchased them at Natural Grocers and Whole Foods as well. You may be able to find them other places, but sometimes they can be difficult to locate. I like to serve the tajine with couscous, but I’ve also found that millet makes a good gluten-free substitute. I’ve never tried riced cauliflower, but I’m sure it would also be delicious with the flavors of the tajine.
Moroccan Chicken Tajine
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger or 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoons coriander
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups chicken stock or bone broth
- 1 ½ lb chicken breasts, cubed
- 28-oz can diced tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3-4 medium carrots, diced
- 2 cans chickpeas, drained
- 1-1½ cups sultanas (golden raisins)
- 1-2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
Heat oil in deep skillet or chef’s pan on medium. Sauté onions for 3-4 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Meanwhile, measure out spices into a small bowl to make it easier to throw them in all at once. Add ginger, spices, and garlic to skillet and sauté for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Deglaze with part of the chicken stock and stir well, scraping the bottom of the skillet to be sure all spices are mixed in well. Transfer everything carefully (turmeric stains!) to a slow cooker and add the remaining stock, chicken breasts, diced tomatoes, honey, and tomato paste and whisk together until well combined. Then stir in carrots, chickpeas, and sultanas.
Cook on high in the slow cooker for 3 ½ – 4 hours or until flavors are combined, carrots are tender, and chicken is cooked through. You can also cook it on low for 7-8 hours. If you don’t have time for the slow cooker, this can be prepared from start to finish in a large pot on the stovetop, but you’ll need to let it simmer for at least an hour to get the best flavor.
Just before serving, whisk in the arrowroot powder slowly until the stew thickens slightly. Top with cilantro and serve over couscous, millet, or riced cauliflower. Just like most of my favorite recipes, this makes a generous amount and it freezes well.