Chicken and Eggplant Tagine is a simple one-pot flavourful meal that'll come together in under an hour of cooking. Serve this yummy stew with a side of couscous or bread.
Chicken And Eggplant Tagine
Have you ever cooked with a tagine? or any other kind of clay vessel?
There is something magical about cooking in this ancient cookware; you have to experience it to truly understand it. One of the beauties of clay cookware is that it distributes heat more evenly and becomes hotter than stainless-steel cookware.
The tagine is a unique type of clay cookware thanks to the cylinder-shaped lid. The lid draws up the moisture and then redistributes it back into the food, causing a beautiful basting effect that helps keep the food moist.
The tagine pot is prevalent in North Africa, except for Libya. Libyans don't really use it for anything other than table decoration. However, it's a very popular cookware in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. For many, the first introduction to a tagine recipe is a lemony chicken dish with an abundance of olives called Djaj M'qualli bi Zeitoun (roasted chicken with olives).
Well, my first chicken tagine recipe isn't that one! For two reasons, one: the internet is full of the Moroccan chicken and olive recipe; and two: this chicken and eggplant tagine recipe is just as simple and maybe, dare I say, even more delicious than the chicken with olives version.
I created this recipe with basic pantry items; a few common spices, a can of chickpeas, and diced tomatoes. Then I tossed in an eggplant that has seen better days and some chicken thighs. If you don't have any meat or you're choosing to go meatless, no worries, my friend, this dish is amazing even without any meat.
What Do You Need to Make The Chicken and Eggplant Tagine?
For best results, you'll need a tagine; however, if you don't have one, a dutch oven will suffice. As for the ingredients, you'll need:
- Chicken thighs: Boneless skinless is the choice for speedy cooking. When preparing the chicken, I like to cut the thighs into 2-3 pieces.
- Eggplant: One large eggplant is best, but two small ones will do. When selecting your eggplant at the grocery store, pick the one that has a green stem, shiny skin and is heavy for its size.
- Tomatoes: You can use canned diced tomatoes for this recipe, (because that's what I did) or fresh ones. If using fresh, you must peel the skin and remove the seeds for best results.
- Aromatics and spices: The best part about this recipe is the very few spices involved, and yet they pack big flavour! You'll only need cumin seeds, a cinnamon stick and a few dried red chilli peppers. And, of course, a generous amount of garlic.
- Chickpeas: I used canned because (I'm lazy!) there's no shame in using them; they speed up the cooking process. Plus, you can't cook chickpeas in tomatoes, they won't cook through, so you'll have to precook them⏤which takes at least 40 minutes, after soaking overnight.
- Vegetable broth: If you don't have any on hand, you can use some magic dust (A.K.A "bouillon powder") or chicken stock.
How to make the Chicken and Eggplant tagine
In just a few steps you'll have a pot of this deliciousness on your table tonight!
- Bloom your spices. To bring out the earthy smoky taste of the cumin and sweet yet savoury notes of cinnamon, you'll need to heat these first, but not too long, just a few minutes.
- Then toss in the chicken. A quick sauté of the chicken thighs in the spices does some kind of magic. The spices infuse beautifully into the meat⏤so tasty.
- Add your eggplant. As soon as the chicken is golden on both sides, add the eggplant and cook until it's almost tender.
- Make the tomato mixture. While your eggplant is cooking, add the garlic and thyme to the tomatoes.
- Add everything else into the tagine. Pour the tomato mixture and chickpeas on top of the eggplant and chicken.
- Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Once finished cooking, add a squeeze of lemon.
- That's it!!! Now, you can either serve this stew with couscous or bread.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this without a tagine? Yes you can, I strongly recommend using a dutch oven for the self-basting effect and its ability to go into the oven after being on the stovetop.
I thought a tagine is like an oven, why are you baking it? You can skip the baking step and continue cooking the tagine on medium-low heat for 30 minutes. I just like to bake it. It's up to you; both ways will work.
Can I use dried chickpeas? Yes and no...if you're going to soak them overnight and boil them for 30-40 minutes before adding them to the tagine, then go for it. For best results, use cooked chickpeas. Adding soaked chickpeas without pre-cooking them will result in crunchy uncooked chickpeas. The acid in the tomatoes prevents them from cooking.
Can I use fresh tomatoes? Yes. I recommend removing the skins and chopping them before adding them.
More Mediterranean Dinner Ideas
- 3 chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ghee
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick, break-in half
- 1 large eggplant, large cubes
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1-2 dried chilies, chopped
- 1 cup tomatoes, canned diced
- 2 sprigs thyme, fresh
- 1 cup chickpeas, canned/cooked
- ⅛ cup lemon juice (½ lemon)
- ⅔ cup low sodium vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC)
- Heat the tagine on low-heat, once the base has warmed up, increase the heat to medium-high.
- Add the olive oil and ghee, once the ghee is melted and simmers, add the cumin seeds and cinnamon stick to the oil.
- Sauté the spice for 1-2 minutes to allow the flavour to come out.
- Toss the chicken into the tagine and brown each side.
- Once the chicken is browned, add the dried chilli and the eggplant. Stir the eggplant to coat in the chicken juices and oil then cover the tagine.
- In a small bowl add the tomatoes, garlic, thyme and salt. Stir.
- Once the eggplant is slightly soft, add the tomato mixture and chickpeas. Stir then place the chicken pieces on top.
- Pour the vegetable broth into the mixture on the side so as to not wash out the chicken. Cover the tagine and bake on the lowest rack for 30 minutes.
- Once finished baking, remove from the oven. Lift the lid from the tagine, add the lemon juice and stir. Serve over couscous or with fresh bread.
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Serving Size:1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 606Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 156mgSodium: 1461mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 10gSugar: 12gProtein: 44g