Veggie Tagine

I remember I’d heard of a Tagine without ever quite knew what it was for a good few years before I tried one. Fun fact about me, I’m actually a bit of wimp when it comes to trying new foods, I have this fear of being disappointed in my meal which makes me a sucker for repeating meals!

Somehow I was eventually tempted into trying a traditional Lamb Tagine and fell in love with the subtle sweet and spicy flavour. In this recipe I’ve reimagined it without the meat, packing it with chickpeas and veggies filling it full of goodness and flavour, by all means you can add in some meat if you prefer, but I really feel you don’t miss it in this recipe.

Tagine is simply a Moroccan stew/casserole type dish named after the pot its cooked in. For this recipe I use a beautiful Tagine I picked up from a market in Morocco a few years ago but I accept most of us wont have one so you can substitute for an oven proof dish with a lid.

Ingredients

  • 500ml veggie stock
  • 1 large red onion, roughly diced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped/minced
  • 80g dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1 tsp Ground coriander
  • pink salt & black pepper

To Serve

  • 400g Wholewheat cous cous
  • 2 tsp Ras El Hanout (or general mixed spices/seasoning)
  • fresh parsely
  • cucumber, diced and tossed in olive oil with fresh parsley

Method

If you don’t own a Tagine (which I accept is 99% of us) then an oven proof heavy bottomed pan with a lid, or ideally a large casserole type dish again with a lid will do the job.

To start, add the diced onions, apricots, chopped tomatoes, garlic and spices to the dish, snack the cinnamon stick in half and add this too. Mix well and then cover with the veggie stock, put the lid on and add to a pre-heated oven on around 150 degrees for an hour.

Stir roughly every 20/30minutes to keep an eye on the liquid level, we want it to absorb and cook down slightly but not dry out.

After approx. an hour add the drained chickpeas and stir in, season with salt and pepper, cover with the lid and return to the oven.

Check again after 20-30minutes, if lots of liquid remains (this happens less in a traditional tagine) then stir well, remove the lid and return to the oven. If the liquid is cooking off nicely and the tagging looks like its thickening to a nice stew consistency without excess water then keep the lid on, or add a splash more water if it appears on the dry side.

There is a fine line between a wet and dry tagine, better to add water a splash at a time than risk adding too much! If you need to cook the water off a little you can turn the heat up very slightly.

All together the tagine should want around 90minutes to 2 hours in the oven, if you want to cook it for longer then lower the heat from the beginning so it cooks slow and gentle.

Once its ready, remove it from the oven and leave the lid on, its going to be really hot so allowing it to settle slightly like this is great before serving.

Whilst it settles boil the kettle, add the dried cous cous to a bowl and stir in the Ras El Hanout then cover with boiling water, you want the water to sit just about 1cm above the dried cous cous), put a plate over the bowl and leave to sit for a 3-5 minutes.

You’ll know its done once all the water is absorbed then simply fluff it up with a fork and its ready to serve!

Serve the cous cous piled up with tagine, and a side of wholemeal flatbreads can go down well too, top with chopped parsley and you’re done.

Tip – some people don’t like eating dried apricot in savoury dish (my mum included!!) but they add amazing flavour, if this is you then leave them whole during cooking and you can easily remove them when eating.

Note – Ras El Hanout is an arabic spice, you can get it in most large supermarkets and asian food stores, if you dont have it some spices such as paprika/cumin/cinnamon or just a veggie stock cube will work