Two music graduates chronicle the culinary delights of Leeds and London and explore the height of fine dining on a limited budget.

Good food is well punk.

April 10, 2010

To Sleep, Perchance Tagine

Moving back to the familial home for Easter has its benefits; namely a larger living space, better quality TV-watching time and a well stocked food and drink cupboard. Unfortunately the comforts of cooking back at home are slightly offset by the irritation of never quite having the right ingredients to cook that One Perfect Dish for dinner. Up in Leeds, I may not have many meats or vegetables (beyond a seemingly endless supply of long-frozen mince and green sprouty potatoes) but the spice cupboard is well-stocked with curry ingredients, and I have a fairly accurate mental image of my tin inventory at any given moment. In London, however, I find myself awash with empty jars of cumin and coriander seed, desperately waiting a refill from a packet that will then invariably spill itself all over the Marmite. As such, I was instructed by Mother to cobble together something for dinner out of chicken breasts and whatever I could find in the fridge. Since I tend to cook on my toes rather than properly measuring out anything before I begin, I kept finding that an ingredient I was sure we must have would be missing, and had to send my younger brother round to the shop. Chaos.

The final meal is what I'm pretty sure would be called a Tagine, but that label would probably massively offend any passing North African. But that's the way I like it. In the same way the rich meaty sauce of the Bologna region in Italy has turned into tomatoey Spag Bol, so too is this dish a product of our post-imperialist view of another culture's culinary styles. A tagine is technically a conical cooking pot, and so the dish refers to anything cooked in one. Obviously, I had to make do without. I always take the inclusion of sweet dried fruits and nuts to be the sign of a tagine, personally. Not to mention a heavy use of spices and garlic. In any case, it was pretty tasty, so I thought I'd share.

Serves 4

4 Chicken Breasts
3-4 Medium Onions
3 Carrots
2 Sticks Celery 
4-6 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tin of Tomatoes
75g Dried Apricots
50g Chopped Almonds
3 tsp Ras El-Hanout
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Thyme
2-4 Dried Chillies (or more!), crushed
Salt & Pepper

Melt a mixture of oil and butter in your casserole dish. Slice the chicken breasts in half, and fry gently. Slice the onions and add to the pot. Finely slice the carrots and celery, and add to the dish, stirring occasionally so as to avoid the onions catching. Add salt and pepper. Chop up the garlic and throw into the pot, along with the spices. Slice the apricots finely, and throw in with the almonds. When the vegetables are soft and the onions golden, add enough boiling water or stock to cover the mixture, followed by the tin of tomatoes. Bring back to the boil and simmer for about half an hour. Serve. !لذيذ المذاق

Ras-El-Hanout technically could mean any blend of spices (much like a Garam Masala) but I used the Bart Spices brand purely because it was in the cupboard. It had cloves and rose petal in. I would have added a tablespoon or coriander, and probably a bit of cumin, but sadly the spice cupboard was almost completely bare. I served this with couscous and my "famous" flatbreads (like most things in life, nicked off Jamie Oliver). I'll share a recipe for them another time...

No comments:

Post a Comment