Thursday, 29 August 2013

Carrot & Chickpea Tagine

I love a good tagine but in the past have counted on meat juices to carry the other flavours into umami. My first attempt at making a wholly veggie tagine was a learning curve and the result was something delicious and wonderful. Moroccan flavours are spicy, zesty and fresh making this dish an absolute treat. Each mouthful brings together different flavour combinations and really surprised me. Using a tagine makes for moist and tasty grub which is slow cooked for maximum flavour. If you don't have a tagine you can use a casserole dish but I would shorten the cooking time by around 20 minutes. 

To serve 2, you will need:

1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained & rinsed
4 medium-sized carrots
​3 whole garlic cloves, bruised 
6-8 firm green olives
1 cinnamon stick
1 preserved lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large red chilli, sliced
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp sea salt flakes
Approx. 10 black peppercorns
300ml water
Large handful of coriander, roughly chopped

Firstly set your oven to 170c to preheat. Slice the carrots and throw them into a large bowl. Add to this the chickpeas, garlic cloves, preserved lemon, cinnamon stick, olives, extra virgin olive oil and red chilli - I like to keep the seeds in for a little extra heat but by all means remove them if you have a low tolerance to chilli. Crush the black mustard seeds, coriander seeds, smoked paprika, sea salt flakes and black peppercorns in a pestle and mortar then add to the bowl.

Mix this all together well ensuring that the carrots and chickpeas are coated fully in the seasoning. Add this to the tagine then pour in the water to almost cover the other ingredients. Cook at 170c for 2 hours. Remove from the oven a couple of times during cooking to mix and check liquid levels - if at any point you feel that the mixture is becoming dry then add a splash more water. This is most likely if you are using a casserole dish so keep a closer eye on it if you wish. After 2 hours increase the oven heat to 210c for a final 30 minutes. If your tagine hasn't reached the right consistency just pop the lid off and back in the oven to thicken it up slightly. Once fully cooked remove the cinnamon stick and mix in most of the chopped coriander. Serve immediately with a dollop of soured cream (or dairy-free equivalent), more coriander and a toasted pitta.

There are so many flavour highlights; the warm soft garlic spilling out of the clove, the fruitiness of the olives which have given so much of themselves to the dish, the zest of the preserved lemon, the aromatic coriander, the light chilli-tingle on your tongue. And best of all, the carrots and chickpeas have absorbed it all. Lush!