Moroccan chicken stew

Happy Friday MC&L crew

Following on from the winter warmers theme, this week I have made a scrumptious Moroccan style chicken stew which can double up as a chunky soup. In fact I took the leftovers to work for my lunch and it was so super tasty; I just love how stews, soups, curries, and the like are always better the next day. Why not make these type dishes in advance so you get that 'next day' flavour. I'm going to do that tonight with a Rogan Josh which you guys will get the recipe for next week! This Moroccan inspired dish is also a total winner when it comes to freezing, as long as you use fresh chicken by all means freeze some. Already frozen meat, chicken and fish shouldn’t be refrozen.

Don't be scared by the amount of spices I used in this dish, if you don’t have one or more of them then just leave it out, you can swap dried for fresh (e.g. ginger and coriander), or if you are scared about using so many spices then why not cheat and buy a premix Moroccan spices, or add a bit of Harissa. Now be careful with Harissa as it’s base ingredient is chilli so it can be hot and spicy. The dish I'm sharing today is not hot it doesn't have any chilli in but it does have a little bit of a kick with the ginger and paprika.  I think it’s a child friendly dish, I'd have eaten it as a child and the spices are there for flavour not heat. 

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So here we go on with the dish!
Feeds 4 as a chunky hearty main dish stew or 6 as a main with veg. You will need:

  • 10 chicken thighs skin removed
  • 10 soupspoons of red lentils (about a bowlful)
  • 1 can organic tomatoes
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots (optional)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried ginger
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 0.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • Oil - coconut is best
  • Chicken stock (I used 2 capsules)
  • Coriander leaves - to garnish

I've put the spice amount down as a guide, in truth I didn’t measure, but I'm pretty sure if you stick to what I put you'll be okay.

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  1. Gather your ingredients. Mix the dry spices in an egg cup. Skin your chicken thighs if not done already. It’s pretty easy to do; just pull it off and if it doesn’t come you might need to give it a nip with a sharp knife where it’s stuck, or push your thumb under the skin to loosen it and preheat your oven to 180C.
  2. Sprinkle some of the dry spices over the chicken (see picture) with some salt and pepper. 
  3. Put a little oil in a pan and heat to a med / high heat. Fry your chicken thighs in a large pan for 2-3 mins a side. You may need to do this in a few batches to avoid overcrowding your pan. Once cooked transfer to a large casserole dish (frying the chicken smells wonderful.)
  4. In the same pan and unwashed add the chopped onion and garlic and fry for about 3 mins, making sure not to burn the onions, remember to add a little water if you need to.
  5. Transfer the onions to the casserole dish, with the tin of tomatoes, lemon juice, chicken stock, red lentils, diced carrots if you're using them, and a big pinch of the spice mix. If you're nervous about the amount of the spice in this dish, you can always keep a bit in reserve and add it as the dish cooks. This way of adding bit by bit is such a good way to cook it’s what I do all the time and it provides a way to give you confidence that your dishes will not turn out over-spiced. 
  6. How much stock did you say?  I knew you were going to ask that and the truth is just like the soup recipes I've shared with you, I don’t measure I just do it by sight. So for this one you need to add enough so the chicken is just about but not quite completely covered. Remember that the lentils absorb the water as they cook this will make your sauce a little thicker. If it comes out too thick just add more water if it’s full of flavour or stock if it could do with a bit more taste. Also why not add the remaining spices if there are any leftover too.
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Hints, tips and variations 

  • I've already said, if you are missing one of the spices just leave it out or use dried or frozen. There is a lot going on in this dish so if you miss one thing it’s not going to ruin it.
  • You can use chicken breast if you want, but the meat can dry out whereas thighs do not. You can either cook the chicken breasts whole, or in bite sized chunks.
  • You can add butternut squash or chick peas to this dish to bulk it out and add more goodness. 
  • Tomatoes: If you are detoxing and avoiding tins, then just chop 6 large tomatoes whizzed in the blender before adding. 

I served mine with roasted butternut squash, steamed broccoli and cabbage and mashed cauliflower (I was using up veg and also feeding 4 adults, so padded it out.)

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The photos for this dish do not do it justice, it really is far tastier than it looks here. This week was the first time I made it and I think I'll do it again next weekend - yum!

Enjoy and stay warm!

Love 
Evie