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Soups, Stews & Tagines – Part 2


Moroccan Fish Tagine

This North African take on fish stew has a tomato base and is infused with spices and preserved lemon.

PREP : 15 minutes
COOK : 1 hour 10 minutes

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¾ cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1¼ cups hot fish broth
  • 4 small red snappers, scaled, filleted, and bones removed
  • ½ cup pitted green olives
  • ½ preserved lemon, rinsed and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 pinches of sea salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 2⅓ cups couscous, to serve
  • 1 tablespoon butter, to serve
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and sauté for 10 minutes, or until softened but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the saffron, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and turmeric, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the tomatoes and broth, stir well, and increase the heat to medium–high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium–low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer for an additional 20–35 minutes, or until thickened.
  3. Meanwhile, put the couscous into a shallow, heatproof bowl. Add the butter and a pinch of salt. Pour enough boiling water over the grains to cover by 1 inch, place a folded dish towel over the top, and set aside for 10 minutes, or until the couscous is tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Cut each red snapper fillet in half, then push them into the tomato sauce. Simmer for 5–6 minutes, or until the fish is cooked.
  5. Stir the olives, preserved lemon, 3 tablespoons cilantro, and a pinch of salt and pepper into the tagine. Fluff up the couscous using a fork. Serve the tagine, garnished with the remaining cilantro, with the couscous.

Cook’s tip : Add a handful of peeled and deveined raw shrimp (defrosted if frozen) to the tagine with the red snapper if you desire, and cook until they are pink. Garnish with a handful of toasted slivered almonds, too, for an authentic Middle Eastern look.


Saffron, Chicken & Vegetable Stew

This fragrant, golden, lemony chicken stew is the perfect pick-me-up for when you’re feeling under the weather. It needs little accompaniment, although a bowl of steaming, buttery basmati or other long-grain rice is delicious with it.

PREP : 25 minutes
COOK : 45 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups finely chopped carrots
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 10 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, halved
  • 1¼ cups hot chicken broth
  • 4 baby leeks, halved lengthwise
  • 10–12 baby carrots, halved lengthwise
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • pinch of sea salt (optional)
  • pinch of pepper (optional)
  1. Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until the butter stops foaming. Add the onion, garlic, thinly sliced leek, and finely chopped carrots, reduce the heat to medium–low, and cook for 10 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, grind the saffron in a mortar and pestle, then add the boiling water, swirl, and pour into a small bowl. Let steep.
  3. Add the chicken, saffron water, and broth to the cooked vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add the baby leeks and baby carrots and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley and season with the salt and pepper, if using, then serve.

Cook’s tip : For extra flavor, use bone-in chicken thighs, removing the bones and shredding the chicken back into the stew in large chunks after cooking. Be aware the chicken takes longer to cook with the bone in.


Spiced Turkey Stew with Israeli Couscous

Cumin and paprika combine with fresh herbs to give this Moroccan stew great depth of flavor.

PREP : 20 minutes
COOK : 25 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless turkey breast, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, to garnish
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous, to serve
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the turkey, a few pieces at a time, then the onion, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring often.
  2. Stir in the garlic, red and orange bell peppers, and tomatoes, then the cumin, paprika, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have formed a thick sauce and the turkey is cooked through, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, fill a saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the couscous and cook according to the package directions, or until just tender. Transfer to a strainer and drain well.
  4. Spoon the couscous into shallow bowls and top with the stew. Mix the parsley and cilantro with the lemon zest, then sprinkle the herbs over the stew and serve.

Cook’s tip : This is ideal if you are counting calories, because turkey is low fat, especially if you remove the skin.


Fesenjan Chicken & Walnut Stew

This classic Persian feast of chicken cooked in walnut sauce is perfect for feeding a crowd on a special occasion. The chicken is slow-cooked until it almost falls apart, and the wonderful rich sauce gains body and flavor from the combination of ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses. In the north of Iran, this dish, or khoresh, is made using duck or game instead of chicken. Serve with Persian Jeweled Rice.

PREP : 30 minutes
COOK : 3 hours

  • 3⅓ cups walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2¾ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups hot chicken broth
  • 1¼ cups pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds only
  • pinch of sea salt (optional)
  • pinch of pepper (optional)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, to garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 8–10 minutes, or until golden brown, checking them often because they will burn easily. Let them cool completely, then finely grind them in a food processor. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
  2. Heat half the oil and half the butter in a large skillet over high heat until hot. Working in batches, cook the chicken thighs for 6–8 minutes, or until golden brown, turning halfway through, then transfer to a plate. (You can use two skillets to speed up this stage, if you want.) Add more butter and oil to the pan as needed.
  3. Heat any remaining butter and oil, plus any cooking juices from the plate, in the pan over medium heat until hot. Add the onions and cook, covered, for 10–15 minutes, or until softened and golden brown, stirring occasionally.
  4. Put the browned chicken and onions into a large casserole dish. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium–low and, with the broth simmering, add the ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses, and sugar. Stir well, then cover and bake for 2 hours, or until the sauce has darkened from beige to chocolatey brown and the chicken is cooked through and has fallen apart in big chunks.
  5. Stir in half the pomegranate seeds and the salt and pepper, if using. Serve in bowls, sprinkled with the remaining pomegranate seeds and the cilantro.

Cook’s tip : For extra richness, use 3½ pounds bone-in chicken thighs, but remove the bones, if you want, before serving.

Authentic dishes from the Middle East

Rukmini Lyer