I love to eat. From that love of eating stemmed a love of cooking, baking, and generally experimenting in the kitchen. From that experimenting came a fair number of cookbooks (and a fair number of extra pounds, but that is a post for another day). Cookbooks which I never end up using because every time I want to make a new recipe, I search my trusted online sites. So my beautiful cookbooks sat, collecting dust.
Apparently I am not the only one who buys cookbooks with the best intentions and leaves them on a shelf. Some friends and I were discussing our poor, neglected cookbooks and decided that we were each going to choose a random cookbook and actually, you know, cook something. We decided to kick it old school and call it Analog Cooking (“Dusty Cookbooks” didn’t seem as appealing).
So I grabbed a few books and noted some recipes that I wanted to make. One was Moroccan Tagine Chana Masala on Couscous from Flavors of My World by Maneet Chauhan and the other was Chicken Tagine with Apricot Golden Beet Rice from Inspiralize Everything by Ali Maffucci. After careful debate, I decided on the latter (because, beet rice). I even went to the store and bought golden beets. Golden beet rice, after all.
So the evening comes when I am going to make my cookbook dinner. I pull open the cookbook to the page with Moroccan Tagine Chana Masala and blast on. Did you see what I did there? I didn’t. Until I was full in the middle of the recipe. All of my reading and choosing and shopping and planning and I started cooking the wrong recipe! Which wouldn’t be so much of a problem except that I didn’t have several of the ingredients that THIS recipe called for. But I went with it. I had already prepped everything, so, really, I had to soldier on.
If you are at all interested in attempting to replicate my poor attempt to follow a recipe, here is the recipe, with my notes.
Moroccan Tagine Chana Masala On Couscous
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups cubed butternut squash
- 1 cup chopped peeled carrots (I used 2 carrots, which was clearly more than 1 cup)
- 1 16-oz can chick peas
- 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 TBSP sugar
- 1 TBSP lemon juice
- 2 TBSP chana masala (here is where it all begins to drift. Did not have chana masala, so used garam masala, which, according to the internet gods may be spicier, but whatevs)
- 1 tsp salt
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- 1 TBSP chopped sweet lemon achar (uuuhhhh, what? I looked it up and it is pickled lemon. I happened to have a lemon, so I made a pickling brine and – no, I did not. I zested some lemon peel and hoped for the best)
- 1 cup couscous
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1/2 tsp garlic-ginger paste (I just grated some garlic and ginger)
- 1 TBSP sambar masala (nope, none of that either. How about some more garam masala, since that is what I had!)
- Salt to taste
- 2 TBSP chopped cilantro
- 3 TBSP chopped almonds
Here is what I did!
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Brown the chicken, onion, and garlic in oil. Add the squash, carrots, chick peas, tomatoes, broth, sugar, lemon juice, and garam masala. Season with salt and cayenne and lemon peel. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes or until veggies are tender (I thought boiling already cooked chicken for 30 minutes was a bad idea, so I turned the heat way down an simmered until the squash was tender – maybe 10 minutes).
While simmering, make couscous. Add 1 TBSP oil and 2 cups boiling water to 1 cup couscous in a bowl and mix well. Add garlic-ginger paste, garam masala, and salt to taste. Let stand about 5 minutes until water is absorbed (or, you could perchance, forget to add all those spices and wait until the end and just add some garlic and ginger after it is cooked. I’m just saying…. you could do that….)
Spread the couscous around the edge of a serving platter. Mound the chicken tagine in the center. Garnish with cilantro and almonds. Oooooor. Put some couscous in a bowl (or 4), top with chicken, forget to add the garnishes which you had actually chopped and set in little bowls all ready to go, and enjoy. Without having to wash a separate platter. Because who does that?! Maybe someone who is more organized than I am. At least I remembered the garnish for the leftovers!
Considering the cluster that was the actual cooking, it surprisingly turned out really good. Both the kids ate it. Even James, who doesn’t eat anything barely complained. Barely.