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Tunisian Tajine (Tajine Maadnous)

12
35 minutes
20 minutes
Recipe developed for BC Egg by Diversivore

This North African dish has more in common with an Italian frittata than a Moroccan tagine. Rather than being cooked in the conical ceramic Moroccan cooking vessel, this tajine is baked in the oven. It’s a warm medley of spices like cumin, turmeric and paprika with potatoes, cheese and chicken (though we have notes for a vegetarian option too). The perfect recipe for a cozy dinner or a hearty lunch!

Ingredients

Tajine

  • 1 lb (454 g) chicken breasts diced (see note for vegetarian option)
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 large potato peeled and diced
  • 1 cup (250 ml) water
  • 1 small bunch parsley (about 1.5 cups [375 ml], chopped, loosely packed) (see note)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 6 oz (175 g) cheese (see note)
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

Spice Blend

  • 1 tsp (5 ml) cumin
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) coriander
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) turmeric
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) salt
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) paprika or cayenne pepper if you want some heat
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) caraway
  • 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) thyme
  • 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Mix the spices together (grinding any whole spices if necessary) and set them aside.
  2. In a large frying pan or pot over medium heat, saute the onions in about 1 tbsp of olive oil until tender.
  3. Toss chicken with 1/2 of the spice mix. Add this to the pan and brown.
  4. Add the potatoes and the water to the pan. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cook uncovered until potatoes are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  5. Stir chopped parsley into the cooked mixture and set aside to cool.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C), and grease a medium (2 quart/liter) baking pan with the remaining olive oil.
  7. Thoroughly whisk the eggs in a large bowl, then mix in the cheese. Stir in the chicken, potato, and parsley mixture, along with the remaining spice mixture. Stir until well-combined, then pour into the oiled baking dish.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until set in the center. Allow to cool, and serve warm or at room temperature. Serve with some harissa, if you like.

Notes

Vegetarian Variation

While tajine is almost always made with meat of some kind, you can substitute more vegetables if you like. Try broccoli or cauliflower, as they hold up well during cooking and take on the flavour of the spices quite nicely.

Parsley

Parsley is a defining flavour in this recipe, which is why there’s quite a lot of it being used. If you’re not a huge fan of parsley, or you want to tone down its impact on the dish a bit, try using about half as much. Note also that flat leaf (Italian) parsley tends to have a stronger and more distinctive flavour than curly parsley.

Cheese

A 50:50 combination of mozzarella and emmental cheese works well, but you can use any relatively similar cheese(s) that you like. Cream cheeses are also commonly used. Note that 6 oz (175 g) works out to about 2 cups shredded, loosely packed.

Variations and Other Add-Ins

Ground lamb can be substituted for chicken. Some variations like to add in chopped hard-boiled eggs, black olives, a few tablespoons of tomato paste, and/or harissa paste for some heat. If you have pre-cooked potatoes, you can add those instead of cooking them with the chicken, though you may find the finished dish has a somewhat different texture. If you have a particular ras-el-hanout spice blend you really like, you can consider using it in place of most (or even all) of the spice blend above, minus the salt.

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