Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Saffron and Raisin Couscous with Fresh Mint and Algerian Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Pine Nuts

I made this dish on Wednesday, July 1 for Andy and me. It took about 1.5-2 hours, but the end result was sooo worth it! I think I may even like this dish better than my previous favorite, Afghani Qaboli Palaw. The chicken was very tender and well-spiced. The sauce was just the right blend of sweet and savory. No one spice overpowered the others, but rather complemented one another perfectly.

I chose the couscous dish because couscous is the national dish of Algeria. I was originally going to make only that dish, but realized that it wouldn't be enough for a meal, so I did a little research to look into the main meats that Algerians eat, which are lamb, beef and chicken. Chicken is the least expensive, so I searched "Algerian chicken recipes" and found this tasty one.

Without further ado, here are the recipes. The originals can be found by clicking on the title of the recipes:

Saffron and Raisin Couscous with Fresh Mint

-2 c. water
-1/2 tsp. saffron
-1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 tsp. salt
-2 c. couscous
-1/4 c. raisins
-3 T. fresh mint

1) In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil and add the saffron.
2) Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 30 minutes.
3) Return the pan to the heat, return to a boil, and mix in the olive oil, salt, couscous, and raisins.
4) Remove from heat, cover and let stand 30 minutes.
5) To serve, top with fresh mint.

Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Pine Nuts

-1 whole chicken (about 3.5 lbs.), cut up into serving pieces
-1 tsp. salt
-2 T. extra virgin olive oil
-12 T. shallots, finely chopped
-1 T. salted butter
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 T. grated, peeled, fresh ginger
-1/4 tsp. turmeric
-1/4 tsp. Hungarian paprika
-pinch of sugar
-pinch of saffron
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 c. water
-2 T. orange marmalade
-1 2" cinnamon stick
-1 fresh thyme sprig
-2 fresh cilantro sprigs
-6 dried unsweetened apricots, chopped
-1 T. finely chopped cilantro
-1 T. extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 c. pine nuts
-1/4 tsp. turmeric
-1/4 tsp. Hungarian paprika
-pinch of sugar
-pinch of cayenne

1) Pat chicken pieces dry and generously sprinkle with salt.
2) Heat 1 T. of oil in a large skillet over medium heat and brown chicken pieces.
3) In a 6 quart pot, sauté shallots in the butter and remaining 1 T. of oil, stirring frequently until soft, about 8 minutes.
4) Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, paprika and sugar. Stir fry for 3 minutes.
5) Add browned chicken, saffron and salt, coating chicken well with mixture in pot.
6) Add water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
7) Turn chicken and add marmalade, cinnamon stick, thyme, cilantro sprigs and apricots.
8) Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer until chicken is very tender, about 15 minutes more.
9) Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat.
10) Stir in pine nuts, turmeric, paprika, sugar and cayenne. Stir frequently until nuts are lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
11) Transfer chicken to a platter and cover with tinfoil to keep warm.
12) Boil the sauce and reduce to 1 c. (about 3-4 minutes). Discard herb sprigs and cinnamon stick. Stir in chopped cilantro.

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