Moroccan cuisine is considered to be one of the most diversified cuisines in the world. This is because for centuries Morocco has been very interactive with other nations and has embraced and integrated many different cultural influences, not only in its foods but its art, music and literature.
Over 2,000 years ago, the first known inhabitants were nomadic Berbers who first gave us the combination of ingredients still found in soups and stews today. They took advantage of locally grown produce and combine olives, figs and dates when preparing lamb and poultry, mixing everything in one pot to create a wonderful stew.
The essence of Moroccan food is a communal style of eating, with many dishes shared by the family. Mealtimes are very social and eaten at a leisurely place with much laughter and talking. Hospitality is a very important part of Moroccan culture. Upon entering a Moroccan home, guests are typically offered food and tea within seconds. Mint tea is a must with every meal, along with the presentation and pouring being nearly as important as the actual drinking of it.
Central to the flavor palette in this region, spices are used in almost every dish. Some common spices used in Moroccan cuisine include karfa (cinnamon), skinijbir (ginger), tahmira (paprika), gesbour (coriander), zaafran beldi (saffron), and harissa.
Moroccan farmers produce all of the country’s food. Local fruits and vegetables such as oranges, lemons, dates, figs, melons, olives, apricots, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, almonds, cashews, walnuts, various cereals and grains.
Certain religious directives shape the food choices of the Moroccan people. For example, pork and alcohol is forbidden, although there are some individuals will enjoy wine and alcohol in the larger cities. The people of Morocco also don’t eat meat that hasn’t be sacrificed, which is a practice called kosher in the Jewish tradition and halal in the Muslim religion.
With a large coastline that runs along the Mediterranean and North Atlantic, fish and seafood is abundant. Beef is rarely grown or consumed. Land and poultry, along with vegetables and dried fruits are a common food combination as represented in the dish I am sharing with you today.
About Moroccan Chicken Tagine
Tagine (Tajine) is a classic Moroccan dish. It is a stew made of meats and vegetables and are typically flavored with fruits, olives, preserved lemons and spices. It is traditionally cooked in a clay pot known also as a tagine.
A tagine is a special North African pot formed entirely of a heavy clay, which is often painted or glazed, such as the one below. It consists of a base where the food is placed and a large cone/dome-shaped lid that is designed to promote the return of all condensation to the bottom. With the cover removed, the base can be taken to the table for serving. The couscous (or rice) is served separately.
But, if you do not own a North African Clay Pot (don’t worry, I don’t either), then you can easily cook this Chicken Tagine in a slow cooker! This Moroccan Chicken Tagine that I created is the ultimate slow cooked dish to warm you up and spice up your life!
For a true Moroccan experience, Tagine is usually served with some warm crusty bread.
Now let’s talk about one of the ingredients in this dish that you may or may not have heard of!
Preserved Lemons are an integral ingredient in Moroccan cooking. They completely transform every dish in which they are used. And best of all, they are so easy to make! When I first heard about preserved lemons, my first thought was where in the world am I going to find preserved lemons at a local grocery store? But after some researching and learning, I found out that you can easily make preserved lemons at home. I used this preserved lemon recipe from My Moroccan Food. Her recipe calls for storing the lemons in a cool and dark place for 4 weeks. But it works just as well to just do the process over night.
While you are eating this Moroccan Chicken Tagine, enjoy some Moroccan music in the background and have a discussion about culture, art, and life! Can you imagine bringing this to a potluck? Imagine the ooh’s and aaahh’s you would get!