Chicken Tajine with dried Apricots and Prunes

Chicken tajine, this traditional Moroccan dish of chicken pieces is braised with spices, garlic, onion, olives, and preserved lemons. As colourful and exotic as the country, this dish is complex in flavours with the addition of cumin, ginger, garlic and a slew of other ingredient which add layers of flavours, both sweet and savoury. For spice lovers, Morocco is heavenly. I remember my first experience walking through the Medina, getting sense overload as I walked through small streets and alleyways filled with stalls of exotic spices, dried fruits, herbs, I was transported to a different world. I cannot wait to return and loose myself in its history and beauty. This recipe was inspired by Mark Bittman; a famous food writer and journalist who has contributed to writing several books and many food recipes for the New York Times. Of course, I modified it a little and put a twist to it. Easy to put together, my recommendation is to make it in the morning and just like a good curry, let is sit for a few hours for better results.
Tajine is both a dish and a cooking vessel with a cone-shape cover. Made out of clay, tajines are often intricately hand painted with beautiful design. You can make an equally beautiful dish by cooking it on a stove top with a cast iron cookware.

INGREDIENTS
Serve 4
6 pieces of Chicken – I like a combination of legs and thighs, preferably with the bone
2 Large onions cut in half and sliced medium size
2 Garlic cloves finely minced
2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
2 Teaspoons Cumin
1 1/2 Teaspoon Ginger
1 Teaspoon Coriander
1/2 Teaspoon Hot Paprika
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 Large Carrots peeled and sliced diagonally
1 Can of Chickpeas with half the juice
Dozen pitted green olives
Dozen Dried Apricots cut in Half
Dozen Dried Prunes
Half a preserved lemon, skin only. If you do not have preserved lemon, simply use the peel of half lemon and slice in thin slices.
2 Cups Chicken stock
Handful of Coriander leaves finely chopped

METHOD
When making a tajine, think of layering and start with the chicken pieces, which you will saute in a few tablespoons of olive oil, until brown on all sides. Remove the pieces and add the onions and saute until translucent. No need to brown the onions, as the addition of spices will give it the depth you are looking for.
Add the garlic, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, coriander, paprika and salt and pepper and continue cooking for about two minutes, mixing continuously to avoid burning the spices.
Add the chicken pieces to the onions and pour the chicken stock and mix well.
Cook the chicken for 25-30 minutes at a medium boil.
Add the carrots, can of chick pea with half the liquid, the dried apricots and prunes and lemon peel and cook for another 25-30 minutes at low-medium boil.
Turn of the heat and let the tajine sit for a few hours.
Reheat at the last minute and serve with a buttered couscous.

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