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moroccan carrot and chickpea tagine

You don’t need a fancy tagine to make this easy and delicious Moroccan dish. Since it is vegetarian, it cooks quickly and any large covered pot in your kitchen will work! Tagines are the original slow-cookers, and these African clay pots are traditionally used to simmer stews for hours over hot coals, using the cone-shaped lid to enhance the flavors by trapping steam and returning the condensation back into the pot. If you do decide to buy one, they are widely available at kitchen stores and online. But either way you can still prepare this exotic delicacy, in which sliced carrots and tender chickpeas are simmered with onions, freshly chopped garlic, and blended with aromatic spices of turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon, creating a deliciously satisfying dish with the irresistible fragrances and distinctive tastes of Morocco.

We were not familiar with tagines until recently, when a friend surprised us with a homemade Moroccan dinner and we immediately fell in love. We couldn’t wait to recreate the meal in our own kitchen, so we bought a tagine that also came with a cookbook full of delicious recipes, including this one. We were so intrigued by the unique ingredients, including the honey used for sweetness and the rose water which adds a delicate floral note, bringing depth and complexity to the dish. You can find rose water online or in many grocery stores, usually near the vanilla and spices.

Our version uses a little less cayenne pepper than the original recipe calls for, but feel free to add more to intensify the heat. This rich and hearty stew is served with a side of couscous, greek yogurt, and a slice of lemon, making a heavenly meal that is easy to prepare, packed with healthy vegetables, and filled with the traditional flavors of Moroccan cooking.

Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Tagine
adapted from Tagine by Ghillie Basan
serves 4

For the tagine:
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1/2-inch slices
2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rosewater
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

For serving:
couscous, prepared according to package directions
lemon wedges
plain greek yogurt

In a tagine or large heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until the onion has softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the turmeric, cumin seeds, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, honey, and carrots, and stir to combine. Then pour in enough water to cover the bottom of the pot with about 1/2-inch of water. Cover with a lid, and continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Then add the chickpeas, and check to see if there is still enough water in the pot, adding more if necessary. Cover pot again, and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Then add the salt, rosewater, and cilantro, stir to combine, and remove from heat. Serve with couscous, lemon wedges, and plain greek yogurt for garnish.

note:
— To make this recipe vegan, simply use maple syrup instead of honey, and omit the greek yogurt.