Archive for April 12th, 2010

This recipe came as a surprise.  It landed in my email Inbox from someone I do not know, via two people I do as was part of an internet recipe sharing scheme that I had taken part in (not really expecting to receive any replies).  I had forwarded recipe exchange emails twice before, but in both cases had heard nothing more, let alone receive the flood of good recipes that the emails promised me!  (By the way, I usually delete emails that ask me to forward them to others and promising me ‘rewards’, but this seemed like an interesting idea.) 

I love the flavours of North African cooking, especially the spices combined with the sourness of pickled lemon with the saltiness of  olives, but I am not especially keen on dishes which include a lot of very sweet fruit.  However, in spite of this, I did not leave out the prunes as most of my family are very fond of them: I just chose to add some olives as well, especially for myself.  As the prunes and olives are added towards the end of the cooking time their flavours complement the dish without really cooking fully into it affecting the overall flavour.  I always use home made Pickled Lemon which is simple to make.  This recipe is ideal for cooking and serving in a tagine, if one if available, but it is not absolutely necessary.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

North African Spiced Baked Chicken with Pickled Lemon
(Serves 4)

1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp cardamom seeds
½ tsp paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp oil from pickled lemons or Olive Oil
4 chicken portions, skin on
2 medium red onions, cut into wedges
2 medium green peppers, de-seeded and thickly sliced
2 fresh bay leaves
8 slices of pickled lemons
8-12 plump no soak prunes
8-12 pitted green (or black) olives (optional – not in original recipe)
1-2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh coriander or flat leaved parsley, to garnish

Recipe needs a day long or overnight marinade to allow the flavours to develop. 

1.  Heat a small, dry frying pan on a low heat until warm. Add the whole coriander and cumin seeds and cardamom pods.  Cook, shaking the pan frequently, for a few minutes until the spices give off their fragrance.  Do not overcook so they burn.  Grind the roasted spices in a grinder or pestle and mortar. Combine with the paprika, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp ground black pepper. Mix to a paste with the oil.

2.  Cut diagonal slashes on the skin side of the chicken and rub in the spice paste.  Alternatively remove the chicken skins and rub the pieces with spice mixture.

3.  Place the chicken in a tagine or baking dish with a well fitting lid.  Add the onions, peppers and bay leaves. Turn so that all the vegetables are coated with the oil. Cover, leave to stand for at least 4 hours.

4.  Preheat the oven to 190oC/370oF/Gas 5.  Uncover the chicken and cook for 20 minutes, occasionally basting with the juices.

5.  Lay the lemon slices over the chicken, tuck in the prunes and scatter over the olives.  Cook for a further 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and the vegetables are starting to brown.

6.  Garnish sprinkled with the chopped herbs.

7.  Serve with couscous, pilau rice or millet.

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