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Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried Figs

February 7, 2013

Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried FigsPin it!

Three years ago I took a linguistics field methods class focusing on Tashlhiyt Berber (an indigenous language of Morocco).

My favorite part of the course? In the first two long stretches of speech that our speaker recorded for us, she explains in Tashlhiyt 1) how to make Moroccan Mint Tea, and 2) how to make Chicken Tagine.

We then worked with that data as a group twice a week for approximately ten weeks. I always left that class hungry.

Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried Figs

For months I was thinking about, dreaming about, and writing linguistics papers about Chicken Tagine. I must have discussed it with my parents because they had the brilliant idea of buying me a tagine for my birthday; they commissioned an artist friend of theirs to create one.

The only reason this beautiful ceramic tagine hasn’t appeared on my blog earlier is because I just hadn’t found the right recipe to share with all of you… until now.

The word “tagine” refers to both the dish you eat (a Moroccan stew) and the conical clay plot that the dish is braised in.

Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried Figs

I actually still haven’t tried out the exact chicken tagine recipe narrated to our class by our field methods Tashlhiyt speaker, Latifa, but I would like to. Her recipe calls for sliced up chicken along with peas, potatoes, tomatoes, olives, and “whatever vegetables you want” (except, you know, she said that part in Tashlhiyt Berber).

Fresh Mint for Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried Figs

I was worried about the ingredients drying out on me (as in my first few failed attempts at tagine*), so I preferred to go with (the even easier-to-prep) chicken on the bone, and I used a good deal more braising liquid than she suggested.

Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried Figs

I also added dried figs, in the delightful Mediterranean tradition of stewing chicken with dried fruit, like dates, figs, or apricots. (I remember the first time my Spanish host mother in Barcelona cooked me chicken with apricots, I was bowled over by the combination of the succulent apricots with the braised chicken on the bone… and I don’t even like dried fruit very much on its own; I find it too cloyingly sweet.)

Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried Figs

This recipe is worth a try even if you have your doubts about the dried fruit + savory pairing. You don’t have to eat the figs, dates, or whatever you use (Paula didn’t), but– like the tablespoon of honey– they’ll infuse the dish with a sweet, aromatic backdrop to contrast with the jolt of fresh lemon juice squeezed over the whole dish just before serving. The bright lemony finish is another essential element in making the dish come together (and a little less involved than the four-week process that goes into making your own preserved lemons– though, believe me, that’s on my to-do list!).

Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried Figs

Oh! And please don’t think you need a real tagine-shaped tagine in order to give this recipe a try; any oven-safe vessel with a lid, like a Dutch oven, will do. My tagine isn’t safe to use on the stovetop, so I sauteed the ingredients in a deep skillet before transferring them to the tagine to go into the oven.

Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried FigsI’ve included a photo where you can see that my tagine is emblazoned with an eggplant. It’s hard to believe, but I used to be even more obsessed with eggplants than I am with tomatoes. (I still love eggplants; they just make the roof of my mouth itch a bit.)

Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried Figs

This recipe post is a (two year-)belated thank you to my parents for the wonderful tagine. I’m hoping it will last me for many more recipes to come.

Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried FigsPin it!

* Last year– the first fall/winter I cooked with my tagine– I was obsessed with trying to cook up a mixture of kabocha, chickpeas, and kale. I stand by the original concept; that combination is always a good idea– I was just extremely lacking in the execution: I didn’t soften or cook the kabocha or kale (or onions!) first on the stovetop with any oil, broth, or heat, but rather stacked everything into the tagine (hoping some diced tomatoes would provide enough liquid) and stuck it in the oven. Bad idea. Everything came out under-cooked and under-seasoned (and yet, I was persistent, and tried nearly the same method several times!). The verdict? Stick with the method suggested here of briefly browning/sauteing your main ingredients on the stovetop before they finish slow-cooking in the oven.

Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried Figs

Print this recipe. (PDF)


Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried Figs
(Very roughly adapted from “More Best Recipes” by ATK/Cook’s Illustrated.)

(Serves 2)

~ 3-4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 tsp.)
~ 1 tsp. paprika
~ ½ tsp. cumin
~ ¼ tsp. coriander
~ ¼ tsp. ground ginger
~ ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
~ ¼ tsp. cinnamon
~ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
~ 1½-2 lbs. bone-in chicken (2 chicken quarters or 6 drumsticks)
~ salt and black pepper
~ zest of 1 lemon, and 3-4 Tbsp. lemon juice (from ½-1 lemon)
~ ½ onion, sliced ¼ inch thick
~ ½-1 cup chicken broth (depending on how much you want for sopping up at the end; I used 1 cup)
~ 1 small bunch swiss chard (4-5 oz. after stems removed), de-stemmed and chopped
~ ½-¾ cup cooked (or canned) chickpeas
~ 1 Tbsp. honey
~ ½ cup figs (about 10 figs), stemmed and halved or cut in quarters
~ ⅛ cup fresh mint, chopped
~ ⅛ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Moroccan Spices for Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried FigsCilantro and Mint for Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried Figs

How to make it:

1. Set aside 1 tsp. of the minced garlic. Combine the other 3 tsp. of garlic with the paprika, cumin, coriander, ginger, cayenne, and cinnamon to form a spice paste. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Swiss Chard and Lemon Zest for Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried Figs

2. In a large skillet (or Dutch oven, or stovetop-safe tagine), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then place in the skillet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown the chicken on both sides, 5-7 minutes per side. Use tongs to remove browned chicken to a plate, but retain about 1 Tbsp. of the oil/fat in the skillet.

3. Add the onions and half of the lemon zest to the skillet, and cook over medium heat until onions are softened (5-7 minutes). Then stir in the garlic spice paste (from step #1) and fry for 30 seconds. Add a small amount of the chicken broth, and stir until the spice paste starts to dissolve in the liquid, then add the remaining chicken broth. Stir in the swiss chard and chickpeas, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Braising Sauce for Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried FigsDried Figs for Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Figs

4. Combine the reserved 1 tsp. of garlic with the remaining half of the lemon zest and the Tbsp. of honey. After the chard has cooked down, stir this honey-garlic paste into the mixture in the skillet. Then stir in the figs. If necessary, transfer the entire mixture to an oven-safe baking dish with a lid, then nestle the chicken back in among the other ingredients, cover, and bake for 35-50 minutes, or until the chicken thighs/drumsticks register 175 degrees on a thermometer. (If using chicken breasts bake for only 20 minutes, or add them in the last 20 minutes of baking.)

5. Allow the tagine to sit, covered, for an additional 5-10 minutes after you take it out of the oven. Then pour the 3-4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice evenly over the entire dish. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and optionally sprinkle with fresh chopped mint and cilantro. Serve warm with couscous or bread.

Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried Figs

Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Dried FigsPin it!

Print this recipe! (PDF)

Related recipe posts:
> Chicken in Vindaloo Yogurt Sauce
> Shepherd’s Salad (Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Red Onion, and Feta)
> Pita Chips with Labne Olive Oil Dip

44 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2013 9:17 am

    This looks delicious! I made a lamb tagine earlier this week but think I will have to give this one a go too – I love the idea of the figs!

  2. February 7, 2013 9:27 am

    Very good post! I got my mom a tagine for this last Christmas and the funny thing is she got me one too in red but not the same, I’ve been afraid of trying to cook with it , I will keep your recipe once I will try it! Thank you for your tips too and the chicken looks delicious!

    • February 9, 2013 1:04 pm

      Thanks! That’s funny that you and your mom bought each other tagines!

      It’s really not scary to cook with– in fact it makes it *easier* to put dinner on the table, because the last 20-50 minutes, it’s all in the oven, leaving you time to wash dishes, set the table, and make couscous (or whatever!). Just follow my tips about sauteing everything a little first, and making sure there’s enough braising liquid, no matter what recipe you use. :)

  3. February 7, 2013 9:37 am

    This looks delightful, especially with the inclusion of figs, which I adore. Thanks!

    • February 9, 2013 1:48 pm

      Thank you! Yes, I adore fresh figs, too, but I’m not the biggest fan of snacking on dried fruit on its own. It takes on such a different texture and luscious flavor once its cooked, though! And I think figs pair really nicely with savory dishes, like this one. :)

  4. February 7, 2013 9:46 am

    Beautiful tagine. Crispy chicken skin. yum!

  5. February 7, 2013 10:13 am

    I just LOVE tangine!! I have a favorite lamb tangine recipe that is always a go to for me. I’ve never used figs before but I like that idea!

    • February 9, 2013 1:06 pm

      Nice! You should try adding figs (or dates or apricots) to your lamb tagine recipe too… :) I think the figs (along with the fresh lemon juice) really make the dish!

  6. February 7, 2013 10:52 am

    Lovely. I adore tagine, and I am very curious about the combination of figs-chard-chickpeas!

    • February 9, 2013 1:09 pm

      The combination is a keeper! I actually sent Paula to the store in search of either dates or figs, but I’m so glad they only had figs, because I absolutely love how it turned out. Kale would be nice in place of chard, as well, but chard seemed like the more authentic choice to appear in a north African tagine… and I always love chickpeas– in everything! :)

  7. Sandhya permalink
    February 7, 2013 11:06 am

    what a lovely and original gift from your parents! Tom’s brother and his wife shipped a tagine over to Tromsø for Christmas a couple years ago. It arrived more than a month late and in a thousand different pieces. :-(

    • February 9, 2013 1:13 pm

      Oh no, that’s so sad!! :( …and tagines are probably difficult to come by in Tromsø, I’d imagine. Definitely a nice idea for a present for you two, though! I mean it’s the thought (and sometimes the bubble wrap) that counts.

      And yes, it was such a lovely gift from my parents! (Mine was shipped to me as well, but very tightly packed in styrofoam.) I really wanted to thank them & post about it *last* winter, but I just couldn’t get a recipe to work out nicely enough until recently.

  8. February 7, 2013 12:54 pm

    You make Moroccan dishes beautifully my friend :)

    Choc Chip Uru

  9. February 7, 2013 6:43 pm

    Oh I just absolutely adore tagine dishes. I usually make lamb tagine, but this is a must – it looks fantastic :-)

    • February 9, 2013 1:19 pm

      Thanks, Anne! :) I don’t eat lamb, so I’ve never cooked with it, but lamb tagine seems like a really popular choice. The first few times I tried to make tagine, I went with all-vegetarian ingredients, and I’ll definitely go back to those, but the chicken version was so amazing and simple, that I can see this being my one go-to tagine recipe for quite a while…

  10. February 8, 2013 3:02 am

    Oh Allison, what a GORGEOUS tagine (both the dish AND the ceramic!). Lovely colours (both the dish AND the ceramic!). Tantalizing photos (both the di…. oh you get me). :P

    • February 9, 2013 1:20 pm

      Thank you, Nat! :) You are too kind. (Oh, and I think my mom forwarded a link to this post to the artist who created the tagine, so he’ll be able to see these compliments about his gorgeous ceramic tagine, too!)

  11. February 8, 2013 11:20 am

    Your photos are gorgeous! I do not own a Tagine but will be looking for one this weekend. I can’t wait to try this recipe :)

    • February 9, 2013 1:23 pm

      Thank you, Michelle! I hope you do get to try this recipe soon! :) But also don’t feel pressure to specifically buy a tagine if you have trouble finding one; I’m sure you could also make this recipe with a Dutch oven (although that would be *more* expensive…) or with any oven-safe vessel with a lid. The cooking time might increase slightly without the pointed lid of a tagine, but otherwise it should still turn out the same!

  12. February 9, 2013 4:39 pm

    The Tagine is beautiful (we still don’t have one, although we keep hoping for a gift ;-) ).

    Great looking dish as well, we may just have to use the Dutch oven…

    • February 11, 2013 11:56 am

      Thanks! That’s funny, because now that I have a tagine, I’ve also started to wish I had a Dutch oven since that seems even more versatile… someday! (Although the tagine can be versatile too: I’m using the bottom half of my tagine everyday as a fruit bowl on my countertop.)

      • February 11, 2013 8:33 pm

        Let’s face it, there is always more cool gear for the kitchen..since we started blogging the “wish list” just keeps getting bigger… ;-)

  13. February 11, 2013 9:31 am

    My cousin lived in Morocco for about 5 years and she made me tagine when she got back. It was so good!!!

  14. February 12, 2013 1:41 pm

    Looks delicious and so pretty. Yes, you never need a tagine, but they are so elegant and make the food look fabulous.

    Thanks so much for following. I’ll be checking out more here…

  15. February 13, 2013 6:15 pm

    What a gorgeous tagine and a fabulous recipe! Thank you for sharing this. I love the addition of figs.

  16. February 17, 2013 11:38 pm

    What a beautiful post! I love the photos and you are combining some of my favourite foods into one pot. I am excited to try it!

  17. February 19, 2013 9:01 pm

    I can’t tell you how delicious this looks. I love the whole chicken+dried fruit thing. Definitely trying this!

    • February 21, 2013 9:01 am

      Yay, I hope you do get to try it! Let me know how you like it. As much as I’m not the biggest fan of dried fruit in general, I also really love it when it’s cooked up with chicken.

  18. February 21, 2013 2:04 pm

    I’ve seen several tagine before but I love your design and color best! So beautiful. When I have something nice I want to use it everyday… Tagine every night. :D Well, I don’t own one yet, but you make me want to get one like yours! This chicken with chard, figs, and chickpeas look beautiful and delicious!

    • February 25, 2013 8:51 pm

      Hi Nami, I just asked my mom for the artist’s name, so now if someday you really want to get a tagine like mine, you can find the same Madison-based artist’s contact information in this article on North African Tagine Cooking! (His name is Chris Cott, and if the e-mail address listed there doesn’t work, let me know, because I also have one other address for him, which might be more recent.)

  19. February 22, 2013 4:25 am

    What a very appetizing & deliciously looking recipe! My hubby & I love this kind of food a lot! Waw!

  20. March 6, 2013 7:11 pm

    I’m always looking for recipes for my tagine…this looks like one to add to the list!


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