This particular Tagine originates from an Algerian city in Northwestern Algeria, alongside the border with Morocco and is distinctive due to incorporating juicy, caramelised aubergines.
In this recipe chicken legs (with the meat tenderly falling off the bone) are complemented with chickpeas and sautéed aubergines. For this recipe I use broken vermicelli pasta, which absorbs the aromatic juices, however you can use traditional couscous or even bulgur wheat also. If you prefer, you can use a combination of chicken legs and thighs, which also works wonderfully when cooking for a larger party.
INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)
4 tbsp olive oil
4 chicken legs
2 large onions, sliced finely
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ras al hanout spice blend
1/2 tsp ground coriander
180ml chicken stock
200g couscous or 400g vermicelli pasta (depending what you're using)
coriander leaves (to garnish), roughly chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
3 large aubergines, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Head 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken legs, skin side down, and sear for about 5-6 minutes until golden brown. Make sure the oil is very hot before adding the chicken, meaning you should hear a sizzle when the skin makes contact. The skin will be released naturally from the chicken flesh once seared, so don't be tempted to remove it before. Transfer the chicken into a bowl and set aside for later.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the onions, cover the pan and leave to cook for 10 minutes until they're soft and translucent but not catching. Add the garlic, caraway seeds, paprika, cumin, ras al hanout, ground coriander in addition to a pinch of salt and pepper, then cook for 5 minutes on a low heat.
Return the chicken legs to the pan and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil and then cover the pan, simmer gently on a medium-low heat for 45 minutes.
Stir in the chickpeas, cover and simmer for a further 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the broken aubergines. Salt the aubergines on a couple of sheets of kitchen roll and wait until some of the juices are released (this removes some of the bitterness of the aubergine).
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the aubergines for 10-15 minutes, using the back of a wooden spoon to break the aubergine into pieces whilst cooking. Once done, the aubergines will be silky and tender.
Prepare your vermicelli or couscous based on packet instructions.
Taste the chicken broth and adjust seasoning, serve on top of a bed of couscous/vermicelli with the aubergines on top and a sprinkle of fresh coriander.