08 November 2016

The chicken + pumpkin tajine recipe

The Moroccan seasoning mix for tajine and couscous dishes is called « ras el hanout ». There is no standard recipe for it (but there are recipes here and here). It can be made up of any number of powdered spices — cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, fenugreek, carraway, cayenne pepper, turmeric, coriander seeds, sweet or hot paprika — and is the cook's or grocer's special blend. It seems that the main difference between the Moroccan spice and Indian curry powder is that the Indian blend includes mustard powder, which gives it a different flavor. The Moroccan blend is sweeter and works better with sweet-savory dishes.

Moroccan tajine of chicken with winter squash

1 chicken (or the equivalent in chicken parts)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. powdered spices (or more to taste)
3 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic
½ cup raisins (or more)
1 cup chicken broth (or water)
1 Tbsp. honey
2 lbs. of winter squash cut into cubes
2 Tbsp. butter
1 small can of chickpeas *
salt and pepper to taste

Cut up the whole chicken or use chicken parts like thighs and drumsticks (I used four of each). Brown the pieces of chicken on all sides in olive oil. Slice the onions and garlic and add them in with the chicken. Add the spices, raisins, and honey and continue cooking for 5 to 10 minutes so that the flavor ingredients are cooked and the spices are fragrant.

Then pour a cup or so of chicken broth (or water) into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and let the chicken and other ingredients cook together slowly until the chicken is starting to fall off the bone — 45 minutes to an hour is not too long — at low temperature. Most of the liquid should evaporate, leaving you with a spicy-sweet, syrupy sauce.

Cut up the winter squash (pumpkin, butternut, acorn squash) into large cubes, peeled. Brown these in butter with salt and pepper, covering the pan toward the end so that they will cook through. Test the chunks of squash for tenderness by piercing them with a knife or skewer.

When the chicken and the squash are done to your liking, turn off the heat under one or the other until both are ready. Finally, add the cooked squash to the chicken along with the chickpeas and gently stir to combine everything. Leave the pot on low heat for 5 minutes before serving.

* Instead of putting chickpeas in the tajine, you can use toasted almonds or macadamia nuts, adding them at the last minute, or even at the table as a garnish.

The ideal accompaniment to this tajine is couscous "grain" cooked according to package directions. If you want to see the French recipe this tajine is adapted from, it's here. It calls for saffron instead of other spices.


  1. Your squash chunks look so perfect. It's the task of peeling that always seems so difficult and time consuming. It's easiest when dealing with a butternut type of squash...but still. Tackling that big pumpkin you photographed on the terrace table must have really been quite a chore.

    1. The first thing to do is to cut the unpeeled pumpkin or squash into chunks. Then you can -peel each chunk with a sharp knife, not worrying much about the amount of the flesh you are cutting away. For us, the squashes are free from the garden after all, and there are more of them than we know what to do with.

  2. Thierry,
    Il y a une superbe photo de VOTRE arbre sur le blog de Walt aujourd'hui. À ne pas manquer.


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