Spring tajine with chicken, potatoes, and peas
If you’re familiar with North African cuisine, then you’ve probably heard of tajine (tagine). You might be surprised, however, to know that in addition to the more well-known Moroccan tajine (a stew-like dish named for the pot it's cooked in), Tunisians also have tajine, but it is a completely different meal.
Tunisian/eastern Algerian tajine is similar to a quiche or frittata, with an egg base. Here in Seattle, we’ve had a depressing winter (one for the record books, in fact), so we’re in the need of a bright dish to help us get through these gloomy days. We thought we’d kick off the first official day of spring with a seasonal tajine featuring peas and potatoes.
RECIPE FOR TUNISIAN TAJINE WITH CHICKEN, POTATOES, AND PEAS
1 lb chicken or lamb cut into small cubes about ¼ inch in size
1 cup potato peeled and chopped into ¼ inch cubes
Garlic 4-6 cloves
¼ cup oil or enough to fully cover the bottom of your pot
1 tbs ras el hanout spice mixture
1 tsp tomato paste
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
One bunch parsley one bunch very finely chopped
1 cup frozen peas thawed
⅓ cup dried bread crumbs
½ cup parmesan cheese
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F
Using a mortar and pestle, mash together your garlic and ras el hanout spice mix.
Note: if you don’t have this spice mixture, you can easily make it yourself. See our Macarona recipe for details.
In a small saucepan, add your oil, chicken, garlic and spice mixture, tomato paste, black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, and turmeric. Saute on about medium high for a few minutes.
Add enough water to cover the chicken, reduce the heat to low, cover and let simmer until the liquid has reduced by about ½ and the chicken is fully cooked. Set it aside and allow to cool.
Note: By the end of cooking time for the chicken, it is ok and should look like there is more chicken than sauce. The sauce will be quite oily and this is what you want, so do not drain the oil as it is essential to the final outcome of the dish. Also, this is the only point to taste for salt/seasoning since later the mixture will have raw eggs. The sauce should be salty enough but try to avoid adding too much as the parmesan cheese will add a good amount of saltiness as well.
In in small frying pan, fry your potatoes until just very lightly golden brown on the edges, the centers should still be pretty white. Set aside to cool on a paper towel lined plate.
In a large bowl, whisk together 8 whole eggs. Add your parsley, potatoes, peas, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and chicken mixture and gently fold all the ingredients together.
Note: You are looking for a thick but still runny consistency. Similar to other quiches. If you find it’s too thick, feel free to whisk together one or two more eggs and add them to the mixture. If you find it's too runny, feel free to add in more bread crumbs just a spoonful at a time. With ours, we ended up adding two more eggs for a total of 10.
Pour your mixture into a baking dish. Bake for 30-50 minutes or until the center has set and the edges are golden brown.
Note: baking time will vary depending on your oven and the size of baking dish used. A square pan about 10x10 inches and 1-3 inches high is usually used to get the square tagine shape. A round pan, like the one we used is also fine but just keep in mind it will take longer to cook the smaller the dish you use.
Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut into squares or any desired shape and serve.