tagine collage
I am in love with Moroccan cuisine. In fact I love everything about Morocco from my favourite leather handbag, to the vibrant throw that adorns my sofa to the ceramic bowls I fill with salsas and sauces. See, I like this country a lot!  Did I mention there’s something special about the food too?

Culinary discoveries are one of the highlights of travel and when visiting Morocco several years back I was overwhelmed by the colours, aromas, tastes and general sensory attack from the exotic, sweet, delicate but sometimes pungent flavours that filled the air in markets and cafes. Morocco is a country that overloads the senses. I spent days wondering the bustling medinas mesmerised by daily life, spending hours mingling in markets, squeezing pass tables of mountainous of red, yellow, brown and orange spices, and others close to toppling with juicy plump olives. I found myself lost in huge markets, wondering sprawling alleyways overspilling with fresh vibrant produce. I took the time to learn about these new foods and spices whilst loitering to observe the daily hustle and bustle of daily life. I took great pleasure in the bread section watching locals toss balls of soft flexible dough ready for the oven. Once charred these unbelievable pitta breads were served with my favourite fruity, spicy but delicate fresh tagines.

knife, board, chop!
Knife, board, chop!

In Morocco tagines were usually served with a side of salad, olives and as much fresh pitta as I could eat (dangerous!). It really was the most colourful, tasty and satisfying meal, perfect after hours of idling and bartering for leathers and silks.. I ate tagines most days and decided that I wanted to start making Moroccan food myself on my return home.

Once back in the UK I was keen to put my newly purchased spices and amazing culinary experiences to good use and began experimenting. I wasn’t looking for 100% authenticity but rather a dish to remind me of Morocco and my memorable experiences. This is pretty much a one-pot wonder and doesn’t the authentic tagine dish.  Over the years I’ve played around with the spices and order of vegetables into the pan as sweet potato cooks much quicker than carrot, however when the potato does break down it adds a lovely thick consistency and smooth sweetness to the whole stew. Parsnips seem to hold their own as does squash so I don’t worry too much when keeping it simmering on the hob. It really doesn’t matter and that’s why I love this dish because it never seems to go wrong….well not yet anyhow! It’s all about personal tastes.

I like adding peas towards the end for the pretty contrast it creates against the warm orangey/yellow and red tones. Chickpeas go in last to avoid them hardening too much….nobody likes bulletesque chick peas!

Delicious served with a mint yoghurt dip, a crisp green salad and warm baguette. This is my heaven. Where is your favourite country in terms of cuisine?

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

(serves 2)

1 onion, peeled & chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
thumb sized ginger, chopped finely
salt & pepper
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
1 cup of squash, peeled & cubed
1 parsnip, peeled & chopped
10 apricots, chopped
1 medium sized sweet potato, peeled & chopped
1 teaspoon of cumin & cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric &  paprika
1 tin of tomatoes & 1 tin of water
juice and zest of 1/2 an Orange
generous pouring of peas
1 tin of chickpeas, drained
small handful of coriander, chopped

Method:

  1. Add the oil to the pan and soften the onion, garlic and ginger. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the carrot, parsnip, squash and continue softening for 5 minutes. Add the apricots, sweet potato, spices, tomatoes, water, orange juice and zest and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
  3. Stir through the peas, chickpeas and coriander and heat through thoroughly.

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