Monday, February 25, 2008

Chickpeas,Raw Mango and Apricot Tagine with Couscous

I first saw a Tagine - the clay vessel as well as the eponymous dish cooked in it - on a cuisine show on TV. I was quite fascinated at the way everything was cooked together, including the meat, gently simmering till all the tender ingredients came together in a rich flavourful stew. I loved the different looking vessel called the tagine, a deep clay vessel with a conical lid which collected the condensation while cooking and it went right back into the dish.

The episode was filmed in Turkey, and this dish was being prepared in a traditional Middle Eastern household; when it was done, a boy went out to the local bakery where they had already given a loaf of bread to bake, and returned with warm freshly baked bread.
The family then sat down to a simple meal of tagine with the rustic bread. Seemed delicious.

I haven't found a tagine as yet...but I did discover along the way, that the dish could be cooked as usual or even in a slow cooker (crock pot). There are also vegetarian versions and the main thing is that most of the ingredients should cook together on a low flame for that distinctive rich stew.

Couscous is another dish seen in many Middle Eastern recipes. I have come across many articles about couscous - the correct way to cook couscous so that it remains fluffy, the fact that it is actually a kind of pasta, the different kinds of couscous. So, when I came across a packet of couscous I immediately picked it up.

Couscous goes well with, I looked up some tagine recipes. Many of them were with meat, and others with pumpkin and mixed vegetables. I didn't want to add pumpkin because it usually sweetens the dish - and my home lurvves spicy food!

After looking through many recipes, I came across this one on the BBC website. Which I adapted. A lot.
Tagine is definitely going to become one of my favourites because it adapts itself so well to whatever ingredient catches your fancy!

I decided to leave the squashes and pumpkins aside and go ahead with bell peppers, carrots, fresh red chillies, apricots, zucchini and raw mango. Chickpeas goes into most tagine recipes as are onions and garlic.

Chickpeas (garbanzo beans/chana) are legumes rich in dietary fiber, protein and folate and magnesium. They have been found to significantly lower levels of total and LDL ("bad") cholestrol. Their richness in folates and magnesium especially increase their efficacy in reducing risk factors involved in heart attacks. Combining chickpeas with garlic or turmeric gives added cardio protection. Combining it with a whole grain like brown rice or whole wheat pasta provides high quality protein comparable to that found in meat or dairy products, without the additional fat content of those foods. Besides lowering cholestrol and being a source of protein, its high fibre content stabilises blood sugar levels making this an ideal food for those who need to control their sugar levels.

Apricots are full of beta carotene and fiber, and this along with their high lycopene content makes them important heart healthy foods. Being rich in Vitamin A, they also protect one's eyes. Remember carrots? Add this one to that orange food list.

What came out of this mix was an incredibly rich stew with a whole gamut of flavours. It could even be served with brown rice instead of couscous, and for a one pot meal you could cook the brown rice in the tagine. I'm going to try that the next time.

The couscous was quite simple to make - I didn't have steamer to cook this in, but I used these tips, spread it on a large steel thali (plate), poured hot water over it and then covered with another thali for about 4-5 minutes. It came out perfectly done. Couscous looks deceptively light (maybe because it resembles our rava or semolina), but be warned that it is quite heavy and a little goes a long way. Couscous while being low in saturated fats and cholestrol is high in dietary fiber and carbs.Read more here.

I am sending this to the Heart of the Matter Event, a brainchild of Ilva and Joanna - this time the theme is Stews and Casseroles and it's being hosted by Michelle of The Accidental Scientist. Thanks for the date extension Michelle!

If you haven't heard of this lovely event, go over and find out more as it turns one next month. The trio of bloggers are making a superb attempt to raise our consciousness of heart healthy foods and a wholesome diet.

Chickpeas, Raw Mango and Apricot Tagine with Couscous


Cooked Chickpeas - 2 cups (from a can or soaked overnight and pressure cooked till tender and peeled)
Onions - 2 medium chopped
Garlic - 2 -3 cloves minced
Cinnamon - 1 stick
Tomatoes - 3 medium chopped
Zucchini - 1 cup chopped into big pieces
Carrots - 1 small chopped
Green Bell Pepper - 1 chopped
Fresh Red chilli - 1-2 small chopped
Dried apricots - 8 chopped

Chilli powder (cayenne) - 2 tsp
Coriander powder - 3 tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Olive Oil - 1 tbsp

Chopped fresh coriander or mint - half a cup chopped

500 ml vegetable stock (I used the water in which I cooked the chickpeas, already flavoured with black cardamom (moti elaichi))


1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan, preferably one with a domed lid.Put in the cinnamon stick and then the chopped onions and saute till golden and soft - about 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute for 2 minutes, next go the spice powders for about 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the apricots, saute 1 minute then pour about 4 tbsp of water into the pan, cover and cook on low for about 5-8 minutes till the apricot is soft, adding a tbsp or two of water if needed.

3. Toss in bell peppers, red chilli,carrots and tomatoes and cook on high for 3-4 minutes; then lower flame, cook covered for about 15 minutes till the tomatoes are pulpy adding a little of the stock if necessary.

4. Add the salt, chickpeas and zucchini to the pan, pour in 300ml of the vegetable stock or chickpea stock and 100 ml water and continue cooking covered for about 25 - 30 minutes on a low flame.

5. The vegetables should be well cooked but still holding their shape and the stew should have thickened a bit. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve over couscous.


Asha said...

I bought a Tagine pot last week, still need to make something. Dish looks great, love the Moroccan/Turkish dishes!:)

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

Hey Miri...boy, this is wonderful!! Must have taken you a while to put this together & a load of surfing too! Tell me, where did you find the cous it the same as broken wheat? Have been following the Middle Eastern cuisine for a while & find the ingredients diff to find. And where did Mr mango come from? Lovely off to read it again! Take care girl!! Will try & call soon to ask you more questions!! LOL

Happy cook said...

Wow it looks so delicious.

Miri said...

Oh you have a Tagine pot? great - looking forward to what you cook in it!

Deeba, The cooking itself was easy peasy....but yes, I thought out the recipe quite a bit to decide the flavours which would suit our palate...
Mr Mango was a surprise find in C R park market and I added it for a bit of tang which we like.
Couscous I found in GK1 M block market - Morning Store - but one of my friends in Gurgaon told me she has found a shop there where you get "everything". I'll find out the name and tell you. It isn't the same as broken wheat - in fact it's actually a form of pasta.

Miri said...

Thanks Happy Cook!

Jayashree said...

Very well written and informative make the dish sound wonderful...I hope to try this somewhere down the line....

sra said...

Miri, that's a very easy way of cooking the couscous. I once tried it by packet instructions and it remained hard - they said to put it in a covered sieve and place it over boiling water!

Nags said...

that raw mago is making my mouth water!! lovely combination of flavours!

Miri said...

Sra, I think you get couscous steamers which might work better than the sieved containers? But yes, this method is much simpler...

Thanks Nags and Jayashree :)

Sia said...

wonderful creation miri. i too belive slow cooking enhances the taste and bring out the best flavour of individual ingredient. i have seen tagine pot in one of the stores here but its way above my budget. but i do have clay pot which i use quite often whenever i go for slow cooking method.

Passionate baker...& beyond said...

Back check! Thanks. BTW, I've tagged you for a wierd meme!!! LOL

vimmi said...

That looks yummy. Nice conbination of chcikpeas with mango and apricots. can imagine the tangy ans sweet taste.

Mansi Desai said...

that looks great Miri! slow cooking keeps all the nutrients as it is, and also adds more flavor! nice spread tthere girl!:)

Dhivya said...

looks yummy

Ann said...

I love tagines... and use mine often to make, well, tagines! :-)

I think one of the nicest thing about Moroccan cooking is that it's so often low on fat and calories while still amazingly flavorful. Your tagine looks wonderful!

Sagari said...

love the combooo of chickpeas ,mango yummmmmmmm

Miri said...

Thanks Vimmi, Mansi, Dhivya, Sagari and Ann :) The slow cooking definitely changes things...

Deeba! a meme?! let me go check!

Meera said...

I have the tagine pot, but haven't yet made anything. couscous and chickpeas tagine was on my "to cook" list from a long time. I love Moroccan food.
Lovely post. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Miri said...

Thanks Meera - your tagine is waiting for the right time :)

Anonymous said...

Good Morning!!! is one of the most outstanding resourceful websites of its kind. I take advantage of reading it every day. I will be back.

Anonymous said...

The author of has written an excellent article. You have made your point and there is not much to argue about. It is like the following universal truth that you can not argue with: There's more that 5 ways to skin a cat, but less than 3 reasons to want to. Thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

You have tested it and writing form your personal experience or you find some information online?