A piece of trivia for you – I always thought chick peas were native to the Indian subcontinent but now know that they were grown in Turkey about 8000 BC!!
Tagine or Tajine is a North African Maghreb dish which is named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. Algerian and Moroccan tagine dishes are slow-cooked savory stews, typically made with sliced meat, poultry or fish together with vegetables or fruit. Spices, nuts, and dried fruits are also used. Common spices include ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron. Paprika and chili are used in vegetable tajines.
My version is a vegan one (omit the feta cheese as topping) and it is a one pot dish cooked over a couple of hours in the oven. Unfortunately, you can’t put the oven on timer and wander off as you need to stir once in a while and add the herbs in between! It is very flavourful and the prunes breakdown giving a bit of sauce and also makes the stew rich and gooey.
400g dried chick peas, rinsed and soaked in lightly salted water overnight
250g red onions, each onion cut into eight chunks
100g pitted prunes
500g carrots, peeled and cut in half
400g of tinned tomatoes, squished with your hands
6-7 plump cloves of garlic, peeled
30g ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
1 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Big bunch of parsley, finely chopped
2 heaped tablespoons harissa
100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
400ml hot water
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Drain chick peas and refresh well in plenty of fresh water.
Measure out the olive oil into a large Dutch oven. Layer the ingredients starting with the chick peas, onions, prunes, garlic, ginger, baking soda, salt, harissa, and tomatoes.
Pour the hot water and place in the oven. Stir once, after 30 minutes of cooking and return pot back to the oven.
Mix in the parsley after cooking for a further 30 minutes. Turn down the oven to 170 degrees and cook for a further one hour removing in 30 minute intervals to give the tagine a stir.
Finally stir in the zest and lemon juice, check and adjust seasoning. Allow to rest for 20 -30 minutes before serving. Serve with flat breads or bread and top each bowl with some sharp feta crumbled. If you have a lemon infused olive oil, you can spoon over the feta.
P.S the stew tastes much better the next day.