Golden Vegetable Tagine and a Guntur Style Chicken Stir Fry
Golden Vegetable Tagine
Traditionally, tagines are cooked in their namesake domed clay dishes, set upon open fires, but this one is a quick dish to do at home with just a casserole or heavy saucepan. If you have a tagine, by all means use it for this recipe, but make sure it is flameproof and not just for serving.
This recipe features, among other spices, ras el hanout, a North African spice mix containing ginger, paprika, cardamom and rose petals, along with other aromatics. It is easy to find in most supermarkets and online. Note that this dish is more about fragrance than it is about heat.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 large cinnamon stick, broken in two
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp lightly crushed cardamom pods
1 tsp lightly crushed coriander seeds
1 tbsp ras el hanout
500ml vegetable stock
800g peeled butternut squash cubes, about 2cm in size (from 1 medium squash, about 1kg before prep)
Large pinch of saffron
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp clear honey, plus extra to drizzle
150g dried apricots
400g tin of chickpeas
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Zest of ½ lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large casserole dish or heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Throw in the onion and cook until softened, for about 5–8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and all the dry spices, then add the stock, diced squash, saffron and tinned tomatoes. Bring to the boil. Add the honey and apricots, and bring back to the boil. Then add the chickpeas, season with salt and pepper, and simmer, uncovered, for 15–20 minutes, until the squash is cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary – the tagine should be sweet, mildly spicy and fragrant. Finally, stir in the parsley, coriander and lemon zest, and finish with a good drizzle of honey. Serve with couscous and harissa, if you like.
Guntur Style Chicken Stir Fry
400g boneless skinless chicken, cut into 2cm pieces
Oil, for deep-frying
For the seasoned flour:
2 tbsp gram flour
1 tbsp rice flour
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp Kashmiri mirch (chilli powder)
1–2 garlic cloves, minced
2cm fresh root ginger, peeled and minced
For the stir-fry:
1–2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4–6 Indian green finger chillies, slit open
2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves, removed from stems
Small handful fresh coriander, chopped
First, prepare the spiced coating. Mix the flours, salt and the dry spices together in a large bowl. Toss the chicken with the garlic and ginger, then in the spiced flour. Leave to absorb the flavours for about half an hour. When you’re ready to cook, shake the excess flour from the chicken and set aside, reserving any excess flour, ginger and garlic mixture.
In a deep-fat fryer, heat sufficient oil to 180°C. Alternatively, heat a depth of about 5cm of oil in a small wok over a medium heat. Make sure the wok is stable and safe. Deep-fry the chicken in batches until it’s golden and cooked through, for 3–5 minutes. Remove the cooked chicken pieces with a slotted spoon and set aside on kitchen paper to drain. If there is any of the seasoned flour, garlic and ginger mixture left over, fry it with the last batch of chicken.
When you’ve cooked all the chicken, heat 1–2 tablespoons of fresh oil in a clean wok over a medium-high heat. Add the onions, stir them into the oil, then add the chillies and curry leaves and stir-fry until the onion begins to turn translucent. Season with salt, stir-fry for a further minute or so, then add the chicken. Stir-fry all the ingredients together thoroughly in the wok, then add the coriander. Turn out on to a platter and serve with rice.
Taken from “Heat: Cooking With Chillies, The World’s Favourite Spice” by Kay Plunkett-Hogge (Quercus)