Carrot and chickpea tagine with lemon couscous
A dish served at Somersault festival from an outdoor Lia’s Kitchen.
Moroccan is one of those cuisines that combine sweetness, tanginess and aromas beautifully, transforming even the most basic of ingredients into deliciously opulent dishes.
This carrot and chickpea tagine is an ideal dish for outdoor cooking for the masses and can be executed easily in the most basic of outdoor kitchens, as we found out at Somersault festival at the end of July. The non-dairy ingredients not only make it light and healthy but also more suitable for camping and outdoor kitchens without refrigeration.
What makes this dish, apart from the toasting of its aromatic spice mix, is the combination of ginger and onion which are sautéed at the first step of the dish. This pairing is not unique to Moroccan cuisine and I first came across it in Cambodia and then Kerala, where it seems to be the base for so many of the dry dishes that accompany family meals every day.
The accompanying lemon couscous is easy and quick to make. Its tanginess pairs well with the sweet spiciness of the tagine. In shortage of preserved lemons last month I used lemon and lime peel and much of their juice to flavour the couscous.
4 garlic cloves
1 T grated fresh ginger
¾ t ground cinnamon
½ t ground black pepper
½ t cayenne pepper
¼ t ground cumin
¼ t Ras-el-Hanout or couscous spice mixture
A pinch of smoked paprika
Handful of fresh coriander chopped
5 carrots thickly chopped –whole- (400g)
5 cups precooked chickpeas, drained and washed
2 T honey
Olive oil for frying
Salt for seasoning
1 T lemon or lime juice (optional)
For Cous Cous
4 T turmeric
Peel of half a lemon
2 T lemon juice and up to half a lemon
3 garlic cloves (mashed or finely chopped)
1.5 cup couscous
¼ cup or a handful of chopped coriander
Salt and pepper to season
(One hour preparation and cooking time)
Fry the finely chopped onion and grated ginger (and a pinch of salt) in a little olive oil for a couple minutes.
Add the spices and fry for a bit more until translucent.
Add the garlic and fry for a minute or two at low heat -make sure it does not burn.
Add the carrots and stir fry until well coated with the spices.
Add the drained chickpeas and the lemon juice and a few pinches of salt.
Add a bit of warm water (just enough for the ingredients not to stick to the pan).
At the same time add the honey and some more olive oil.
Stir well, cover and simmer on low heat until the carrots are soft but still have a bite (usually twenty minutes).
At the end of the process add the fresh and finely chopped coriander and mix.
Whilst the tagine is cooking boil one and a half cup of water.
Add some olive oil to a hot frying pan and fry the lemon peel and the turmeric.
Add the garlic and some salt and lightly fry but avoid burning.
Add the boiling water, season, mix and then stir in the couscous.
Take off the heat and cover until the couscous rises and doubles in size.
Add the fresh coriander when the couscous is ready.
Try and season to taste.
For the tagine use a wide and deep frying pan, preferably twenty centimetres. This allows the liquid to evaporate more evenly and quicker speeding up your cooking time. It also means you don’t need as much liquid to cook the carrots.
At the end of the cooking time there will be no sauce for this tagine but the dish should not be really dry. The honey and the added liquid should have formed a thin syrup that keeps the dish moist. If you run out of liquid as the carrots boil make sure you add enough to achieve this.
The dish is vegan but of course there is nothing stopping you from adding a couple of dollops of Greek-style yoghurt or some feta.
You can replace the fresh coriander with a tablespoon of dry coriander in the couscous if you would like.