Chicken & Butternut Pumpkin Tagine

I'm calling this a tagine, but it may technically not actually be one since I don't actually own or cook it in one of the dishes that give the dish its name. But I love those Northern African flavours, and that's what this recipe is all about. Bold, warming, and totally delicious, I cook this on the stove in one of my trusty cast-iron pots.

I made this initially with a friend a few weeks ago. He's on a lower FODMAP diet so we had to avoid onions and garlic completely. Instead, some freshly chopped spring onions at the end lend a similar flavour. If you don't have preserved lemons on hand (they aren't always easy to find in the shops, either) you can omit that ingredient. The squeeze of fresh lemon at the end brings it all together, so that'll do the trick anyway.

Makes four serves, with each serve (including quinoa) delivering 712kcal., 55g. protein, 34g. fat (only 6g of which is saturated), and 40g. carbohydrate. Have a smaller serve or enjoy without quinoa if you want to keep it a little lighter.

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Ingredients

6 skinless chicken thighs, excess fat removed

1/2 small butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2x2cm cubes

2 tb extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chicken stock

1 tin (400g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

100g dried apricots, halved

75g green olives, pitted

1/3 cup slivered almonds

2 tsp honey

3-4 spring onions, thinly sliced (green parts only)

large handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

large handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

peel of 1/4 preserved lemon, thinly sliced

2 cinnamon sticks

1 bay leaf

4 cardamom pods

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander seeds

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

sea salt and black pepper, to taste

1 lemon, quartered, to serve

 

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Method

1) Coat the chicken thighs in one tablespoon olive oil, and the turmeric, coriander seeds, ginger, paprika, and nutmeg. Season with sea salt and pepper, then coat well using your hands. Leave to come to room temperature before cooking.

2) Over a medium-high heat, seal the chicken thighs by cooking for two minutes on each side in a heavy-bottomed, cast iron pot. Remove the thighs and leave to one side.

3) Add the cubed pumpkin and other tablespoon of oil to the pot. Cook for five minutes, stirring regularly. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pumpkin, and place in a bowl to one side. Leave the remaining oil in the pot.

4) Thickly slice the chicken thighs. They'll still be uncooked in the middle, but that's okay because they're going straight back into the pot now, along with the bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and honey. Cover with the chicken stock and stir well, then reduce the heat to medium and leave to simmer with the lid on for fifteen minutes. The chicken should now be well cooked through.

5) Return the pumpkin to the pot, along with the chickpeas, olives, dried apricots, and preserved lemon peel. Stir through to combine all ingredients, replace the lid, and cook for another ten minutes.

6) Meanwhile, preheat a fan forced oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Spread the almonds over a baking tray and cook for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven.

7) Taste your tagine, and season with sea salt and pepper according to your tastes. Take off the heat, then remove the cinnamon sticks, bay leaf, and cardamom pods (if you can find them!) before stirring through the fresh coriander, parsley, and spring onion.

8) Serve on a bed of quinoa (or mash) and top with a sprinkling of the roasted slivered almonds. Squeeze the juice of a lemon wedge over the dish, and enjoy!