Chicken tagine is one of my favorites, nothing really compares to a slow cooked poultry dish made in an earthenware pot. My Mother in law really enjoyed this lunch and of course coming from an older Moroccan woman I take that as a compliment. The masala used in this recipe is optional but it really does compliment the dish, so if you have it available give it a try. It may not be an authentic Moroccan spice but "Hey" neither am I.
1.5lb whole chicken, skin removed and jointed
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped coriander
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 to 1 1/2 cups peas (not from the can)
4 small potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise (4 to 6 wedges per potato)
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1/4 to 1/3 teaspoon ground pepper or to taste
2, 2inch pieces cinnamon bark
1/3 teaspoon Garam masala (optional)
1/4 of a Moroccan preserved lemon cut in 3 pieces
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup water
2 green chili's, whole
Salt to taste
Place the tagine on a diffuser over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil into the tagine, salt the chicken and place in the tagine, skin side down. Cook for 5 minutes, mix the coriander, onions, and garlic in a bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Evenly distribute the mixture around the chicken and in any gaps between the chicken. Sprinkle the spices over the chicken and onion mixture, evenly. Cover and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the tagine begins to sizzle and the onions become translucent. In the same bowl you mixed the onion mixture in, add 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, crumble in the saffron, and pour in 1/3 cup hot water. Mix to combine. Pour the water around the chicken and with a spoon mix all of the ingredients surrounding the chicken until the spices are blended into the broth, make sure to spoon some of the juices over the chicken as well. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over, keeping it in the center of the tagine, pour the peas in around the chicken, arrange the potatoes over the peas. Tuck the cinnamon bark and preserved lemon in the gaps between the chicken and place two chili's on top. Lower the heat to low and cook the tagine without opening for approximately 1 1/2 hours.
Note: You may check the tagine after 1 hour if needed but not anytime before that. I cover the rim of the tagine with two damped kitchen towels to trap the heat, that seems to reduce the cooking time by at least 20 to 30 minutes.