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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Cooking with Carls: Moroccan Chicken Tajine with Almond and Sultana Raisin

<ving a chance to learn about local cuisines is one of the most exciting parts of traveling abroad. Thus, the prospect of gastronomic experiences to come certainly factored in to my excitement to go to Egypt, Turkey, and Morocco through the Middle East Mosaics program. Thanks to my Moroccan host mother, who understood my curious mind and adventurous taste buds, I was allowed into the kitchen and had opportunities to taste and to prepare traditional Moroccan dishes. Sure, it’s quite common to brag about one’s own cuisine, having learned to appreciate it from a very young age. However, it is foreigners who are the most exuberant promoters of Moroccan cuisine. As many French people did during the colonial era, foreign travelers from all over the world today fall in love with this delicious home-style cuisine right away, saying that the best food they have had in their lives was in Morocco. I also had many unforgettable meals and desperately miss those Friday couscous lunches and the tajin dishes of slow cooked vegetables and meat with various spices thrown in. Here, I would like to share with the Carleton community a few secrets of the Moroccan deliciousness with a recipe of my favorite tajine dish.

The Secrets:
1. All the ingredients are fresh and organically grown in a small farm. (Everyday, my host mother and sister go to small vendors inside the old walled city to get vegetables, herbs, meat, and bread.)
2. The long tradition of cooking with local ingredients has kept the most delicious dishes alive and even further developed while the mediocre ones died out. Moroccans mastered how to use different spices early on, especially saffron and cumin.
3. They have developed and use brilliant cooking wares, such as the two-tier steamer for boiling vegetables and chicken at the bottom and steaming couscous on the top. They also use the clay pot called tajine, whose conical-shape lid keeps the moisture in.
4. The meal is always communal, and they are well aware of that food tastes better when eaten together with friends and family. Moroccans still go home for lunch, the largest meal of the day – they certainly practice the “slow food” lifestyle.

Chicken Tajine with Almond and Sultana Raisins
Serves 2


½ cup olive oil
2 chicken breasts, washed and dried
½ onion, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
¾ tsp ground ginger (or 1 tsp fresh, finely chopped)
5 strands of saffron in half a glass of warm water
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
5 cinnamon sticks
½ tsp sugar
2 whole onion, sliced into rounds
½ cup sultana raisins (or other dried fruits such as prunes or dates)
½ cup almonds, peeled


1. Heat the oil in a tajine over medium-high heat. (While it will greatly help making a successful dish, don’t worry too much if you don’t have one. You can surely try it with another kind of clay pot or a heavy-bottomed saucepan.)
2. Add the chicken breast and the chopped onion and fry for three minutes.
3. Add all spices. Mix well and cook for ten minutes.
4. Add the onions, sultanas, and almonds. Cook over very low heat until the chicken is cooked.
5. Serve with pita bread or baguette. Also, take a time to appreciate the dish with your family or friends like Moroccans.

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