Moroccan chickpea tagine is so comforting and delicious that I would love to have it every day. This recipe is for a basic chickpea tagine cooked in a warm earthy spice mixture of onions and tomato.
Simple to make and deliciously fulfilling, this chickpea tagine is a dinner favorite in our home. It is made with staple pantry and kitchen ingredients — dried chickpeas, spices, garlic, onions, and tomato. This recipe serves 4 and you can easily increase the quantity by adding some vegetables to it. Depending on the season, I would suggest adding carrots, squash, zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, and/or cauliflower to the tagine.
We went to Morocco almost 5-6 years ago and except for when we were in Marrakech, we stayed in home-stays with local families. Two things that I enjoyed most there were the oranges and the Moroccan tagines! I was delighted how every night we used to eat these delicious vegetarian tagines which the hostess would make. Every evening they also made fresh bread and a big mound of couscous along with individual tagine servings for the family and guests. During one of those stays, the mother of our host invited me into the kitchen while they were cooking and taught me how to use a tagine and how to cook a tagine.
What is a tagine?
Tagine is a traditional Moroccan cooking dish made of clay as well as a cooked dish :-).
Tagine: The Cooking Dish
The cooking dish is made of clay or ceramic. It has two parts — a flat bottomed pan and a conical lid. It is intended for very slow cooking over the fire, electric hob, or in the oven. As the steam from the food rises through the conical lid, it creates a moist and hot cooking environment. As the steam reaches the top, some of it condenses back into the food. That slow cooking and the cooking of food in its own steam gives the tagine its distinctive flavor. These days you can even find electric tagines or tagines that can even go over induction cooktop.
The only thing I bought from Morocco was tagine. I did go a little overboard and bought them in three sizes! The smaller blue ones are actually for condiments but the bigger ones are for cooking.
What do you do if you don’t have a tagine?
I use the traditional clay tagine to make this recipe but you can also make a tagine in a regular heavy-bottomed pan. The effect of steam won’t be there but if you cook on a low flame, you will definitely have a delicious, healthy, and hearty tagine dish.
Tagine: The cooked dish
Tagine is a North African stew of spiced vegetables and/or meat which is cooked in a tagine. Traditionally the base of a tagine is a spicy mixture of onions and tomatoes. The main spices used are cinnamon, cumin, and harissa (which is a charred pepper paste with chilies, garlic, lemon, herbs, and spices). The “hero” ingredient varies from tagine to tagine. Non-vegetarian tagines can be made with beef, lamb, or chicken. The simplest vegetarian tagine is with chickpeas. But usually vegetarian tagines are made with a mix of vegetables and chickpeas. During our 10 days in Morocco, I had veg tagines with many different kinds of vegetables — squash, carrot, pumpkin, potato, bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini. Served over a bed of couscous, it is a hearty and delicious meal.
This recipe is for the simple chickpea tagine. It is great for vegan and vegetarian cuisines. It is different from our Indian chickpea curry preparation in both the method of cooking as well as the spices. I love the sweetness of cumin and cinnamon along with the spicy harissa in this recipe.
If you like this recipe or have any questions about it, please do connect with me through comments below. It really encourages me to keep exploring, trying, and sharing.
Vegetarian Moroccan chickpea tagine
Ingredients (1cup = 240ml; 1tbsp = 15ml; 1tsp = 5ml)
- 1 cup dried chickpeas soaked overnight
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 medium onion thinly sliced
- 2 clove garlic
- 4 medium tomatoes 2 chopped, 2 puréed
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp ginger powder
- 2 tbsp harissa paste
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp sugar
- fresh coriander leaves for garnish
- 6-7 almonds sliced
- Pressure cook/boil the chickpeas with 3 cups of water and a little salt until soft. When done, drain and keep aside. Save the water in which the chickpeas were boiled. Alternatively, you can use 3 cups cooked chickpeas.*
- Place the tagine bottom on the gas stove and add oil to it. Allow the oil to heat up. Clay vessel takes a little longer to heat as opposed to modern pans but once hot, they also retain the heat for longer. (See notes on how to cook with tagine)
- Add cumin seeds, onion, and garlic. Add salt and turmeric. Mix and cook covered for 3-4 minutes till the onions are softened.
- Add the chopped and puréed tomatoes and all the spice powders. Mix well and Sauté for a couple of minutes. Add a little water if required. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Occasionally open the tagine and stir the mixture to ensure it doesn’t stick. If you are using a clay pot, some of the mixture will stick and it is okay.
- Add in harissa paste (or seasoning powder) and the cooked chickpeas along with 2 cups of water in which the chickpeas were cooked. Mix well and cook covered for 10 minutes till the mixture is thick enough.
- Dry roast the sliced almonds lightly in a pan over medium heat.
- Before serving sprinkle with fresh coriander (cilantro leaves) and the almonds. Serve with couscous or rice. If you are going grain-free then the chickpea tagine is a great treat as is too!
- *I often soak and boil extra chickpeas and freeze the cooked chickpeas instead of keeping canned ones at home.
- While this recipe only uses chickpeas, you can also add vegetables to the mix. Add vegetables before adding the cooked chickpeas and allow them to partially cook before adding the chickpeas.
- Nutritional information is the approximate information for 1 of 4 servings without couscous.
- Care while using the clay or ceramic tagine: To avoid cracking or breaking a clay or ceramic tagine, make sure it sits above the heat source and not directly on it (use a diffuser if you have an electric stove or flat cooktop). Place the tagine over low to medium-low heat and be very patient while the tagine slowly reaches a simmer.
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