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Chicken Prunes and Almonds Tajine

“As the lid was lifted off this tajine brought to our table by the senior citizen waiters - the pungent aroma of spices hit my senses and I couldn’t wait to tuck in. Succulent chicken smothered in its own cooking juices, sprinkled with sesame seeds and fresh almonds and dotted with whole prunes - it was a delight to the eyes and was surely going to be a delight to the palate”

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Method

Rinse the chicken and pat dry; trim away excess fat. Cut off the wings and legs, leaving the breast in one piece. Rub all the pieces with salt, pepper, and the cumin. Let stand for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, cover the prunes with cold water in a small saucepan and add the cinnamon. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside. Place the onions in a wide, shallow casserole with the turmeric, ginger, salt and pepper to taste, and 1/4 cup water; cover, and steam for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, brown the almonds in 4 or 5 tablespoons oil in a large skillet; remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Brown the chicken evenly on all sides in the same oil, then transfer to the steamed onions. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper and cook over the lowest possible heat for about 1-1/4 hours. Discard the parchment paper.

Add the cooked prunes to the casserole and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Arrange the chicken breast in the centre of a serving dish, place the legs and wings around, and cover all with the prunes and sauce. Sprinkle with the almonds and serve at once.

Ingredients

One 3 ¼ -pound chicken

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoon ground cumin, preferably Moroccan, or more to taste

12oz moist prunes, pitted

2-3 tsp ground cinnamon

2 large yellow onions, halved and sliced lengthwise

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground ginger

1 cup blanched whole (fresh if possible) almonds

vegetable oil for frying