Dreaming of Morocco

When S and I got married 5 years ago (well, actually it will only be five years in 2 weeks), we had originally planned to honeymoon in both Spain and Morocco. We especially wanted to go to the latter. We dreamed of visiting Fez, Casablanca, Tangier and Marrakech. We bought several guide books, surfed multiple websites and quizzed friends on where we should stay, shop and eat. Sadly, because of some craziness at work, the honeymoon was postponed. A full year later, when we finally found some time to take a trip together, for a number of reasons, we went to Paris instead.

We still want to visit Morocco some day (soon). Until then, we’ve been feeding our fantasies through feeding our appetites. S and I have been slowly amassing a collection of North African and Middle Eastern cookbooks. One of the cuter and more charming cookbooks that we’ve enjoyed using is Diana Henry’s Crazy Water Pickled Lemons.

One recipe that I really like in Ms Henry’s book is her “Moroccon chicken with tomatoes and saffron-honey jam.” It’s a mouth-wateringly tasty dish that is also very easy and quick to make. It has wonderful flavours. I’m partial to dishes that are both sweet and savory at the same time. I really like saffron-laced dishes. And I love the soft succulence of braised meats. So this dish works for me on at least three different levels. I also like that this recipe is purposely lighter and not as sweet as the traditional Moroccan version.

Ms Henry uses a whole chicken jointed in 8 pieces. I prefer using 8 chicken thighs. That way guests don’t have to fight over who gets the better portion. Plus, chicken thighs braise better than other parts, like the breast for example.

Moroccan Chicken with Tomatoes and Saffron-Honey Jam
Adapted from Diana Henry’s Crazy Water Pickled Lemons

Serves 4

8 small chicken thighs
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
6 heads of garlic, peeled and chopped
2.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1.5 teaspoons ground ginger
800g tomatoes, roughly chopped
280ml chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
5 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon orange flower water
25g flaked almonds, toasted
small bunch of coriander, chopped

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown them in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Set the chicken aside and cook the onion in the same pan until soft. Add the garlic, ginger and cinnamon, stirring constantly. After a minute, add in the tomatoes, stir and turn the heat down. Cook, still stirring, for 5 minutes.

Boil the stock and dissolve the saffron in it. Pour this into the vegetable mix. Bring to a boil and then place the chicken into it. Try to submerge most of the chicken pieces below the liquid. Then cover and lower the flame to its lowest setting. Cook for 25-30 minutes.

Remove the chicken pieces, set them aside and keep warm. Turn the heat up again so that the braising liquid starts to boil. Reduce it till it is quite thick and “creamy”. Add the honey and keep reducing it until it becomes jammy. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. Add the orange flower water. Put the chicken pieces back into the sauce, heating them through and slowly coating the chicken with it. When serving, toss the almonds and coriander over the chicken. Serve with cous-cous.

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About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

27 comments on “Dreaming of Morocco
  1. Hi Aun,
    during one of my last years at high school i’ve been lucky to live in a Moroccan family for few days where i was delighted by lovely pastries (the nanny found i was too skinny) and delicious chicken and prune tagines.
    Thank you for remininding of these good moments i shared with the family.

    xoxo
    fanny

  2. hi, that looks divine, perfumed with all the promise that morocco holds…i’ve been plotting lately about putting together a spread of sorts. it will, of course, have to wait till my resident food chauvinist is away;he feels about tagines and mezze the same way he feels about fruit ;p

  3. The chicken looks absolutely divine. I am planning a trip to Morocco next year. Could you share the info you have on where to visit, stay and eat? Thanks a lot.

  4. Gorgeous photo. I went to Morocco once, just a one day thing on a cruise, but still it was completely mind-blowing. I’d love to go there for a few weeks and see some of the less commercialized areas.

  5. I so want to go to Morocco. in the meantime, I agree cooking up tagines conjures up all sorts of wonderful images.
    but don´t forget to come to Spain too, when you do!

  6. hi! the meal looks gorgeous. like you, i have dreams of making it to morocco one day.

    may i know where you get orange flower water here in singapore? thanks!

  7. I agree with your sentiments about visting Morocco and North Africa, that part of the world has held immense appeal to me over the years and I hope to be able to travel there in the future. Your recipe for ‘Moroccan Chicken with Tomatoes’ sounds delicious and the photo is very enticing ! Thank you for sharing.

  8. do you use home-made or store-bought chicken stock? if you use store-bought , would you be able to recommend a brand? Looks really yummy and do-able!!

  9. Krista: Thanks.

    A Man: Thanks. We got a great Le Creuset set for our wedding.

    Nicholas: When are you going? I’m so jealous. Hey, great blog by the way.

    Melissa: Hola, your recipe looks, of course, delicious. I’ll try yours out as well. Thanks. Hey, maybe we should organize a world bloggers meet in Morocco?

    Fanny: Wow, sounds like a great time. You must have had wonderful meals.

    J: Hmmmm… I can’t wait for W to leave town again :-)

    Cheong Ching: Since my research is now 5 years old, not sure if it will help you. Do what I did. Buy a couple books and spend a couple hours googling good websites and blogs.

    Kalyn: Well, at least you went there.

    Ana: Thanks.

    Amy: It’s water that’s been made by boiling the blossom of the bitter orange tree, then capturing the steam and condensing it.

    Ximena: Hey, you have no excuse not to visit. You’re just a hop, skip and border crossing away. Actually, we’re hoping to do Spain next Spring. :-)

    Shah: Thanks. We all can dream, eh? You can the water at Culina.

    EC: Thanks.

    Wendy Leow: We prefer to make our own :-)

  10. Hi Aun,
    Stunning photo (as always…) and very nice post! =)
    I went to Agadir with my mum 4 years ago and it was indeed so special and impressive.
    I especially remember the souks with all the stalls loaded with different spices. Sweet-smelling and so beautiful coloured. (ahum, and I remember also the horrible cockroaches…)
    Really hope you and S will go anyway to Morocco, Hé, maybe for a 5th anniversary??? =)

  11. I would encourage you to go! I went on the whim of my friend for two weeks last summer and had an unforgettable experience. We got there by ship from Spain and traveled around on buses, trains and taxis. Constantly frustrating but we met many more people that way! Equally frustrating however is the many many times I wanted to stop the train to photograph their beautiful countryside. I am sure you are all read up on the food of the region, but if you aren’t backpacking, take home a tagine pot or two! And although my friend berated me for buying a carpet at the first place that snagged us (in Chefchaouen), I think it was still the best price we were offered the whole trip. Slightly off the beaten track but worth the visit.

  12. I think your site’s fabulous! Thanks for the delightful (and often mouthwatering) insights.

    You might have heard of Claudia Roden – she’s Egyptian and writes a mean set of cookbooks. She’s won heaps of awards; her first cookbook brought Middle Eastern dining into mainstream Western culture. Think of after-pub kebabs. I own two of her books but I’ve never had the time to cook because of studying.

    I’m aching to try your kaya recipe. Reminds me of those days back home, eating Ya Kun Kaya toast with family and friends. Take care! :)

  13. Morocco is only a short flight from Paris! :-)
    My Arabic colleagues all tell me that the tangines and couscous are done differently in every country. The preparation and quantity of spices used are all different. I’ve tried a few and like them all… esp, when the meat pieces are so soft and tender, they fall to bits at the first bite. Yum!

  14. hey is that a le creuset pan? have tried cooling with those – aint’ those great for stews/braises etc? and they keep the food warm for such a long time! Plus alain ducasse uses them..and i’m such a fan :)

  15. Hi
    great fan of your work.
    I am planning arabic dinner with a friend. I love morroccon food Any recommendations of restaurants in singapore that experts like yourself and in your community would kindly offer?

  16. just wondering, where do u get saffron in singapore? Is it just me or is it difficult to find fresh saffron here?

    the same goes for vanilla pods.where do u get e good ones such as those from mexico (Vanilla planifolia) or those from madagascar (Vanilla bourbon)? the ones that i get are from tahiti?

    thanks

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