Friday, 28 March 2014

Improvised Tagine like thing that works well if I've lots of guests, one or more of whome are vegan.

How I improvise a Tagine style of thing if i've got a bunch of gamers coming round goes like this:

Get more or less equal amounts of all of these things:

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato, Carrots, any coloured peppers you like, Chickpeas, Tomatoes (a mix of tinned and real is best), Onions.

Drain the Chickpeas, rince, clean and slice the rest of the above into D20 sized chunks or slightly larger, except for the onions which want to be smaller.

Get smaller, but not insignificant amounts of these, maybe a small handful of each:

Figs, Apricots, dried or fresh, a combination of dried and fresh is good. Slice it all up. Garlic, crush some cloves of garlic, but at least one bulb you can just slice in half.

Throw all of the above into a flat tray so it stacks up to about 5cm and chuck flaked almonds in there as well. Fuck it, chuck some pomegranate seeds or other some random fruit in there too. It’ll probably work out fine.

Ras el hanout! – Turmeric, Cumin, crushed Black Pepper, Salt, Smoked Paprica, Cayenne Pepper. Slice a whole big chilli, remove seeds or leave them in if you like or some of the nice dried chilli flakes you can get in MMM in the Grainger Market in Newcastle. Some fresh bunches of stuff if you have it, like Thyme, Coriander or parsley. A Bay leaf or two is probably useful in an undefined way. Lots of spices shaken on top of this all.

Sorry, I don’t know how to be vegan: I’d also usually add honey and some butter. There are tricks that vegans know I’m sure. I have heard of fig paste? I think this might be a good idea.


Pour on hot water and vegetable stock. By now you’ve completely overdone the spices. Fine. Stick it in the oven such that the water starts to bubble then turn it down to about 150/160 for a long time – two hours plus.

At the end you want it not to be watery, so if it’s looking too watery after an hour and a half turn up the heat a bit. There shouldn't be pools of water at the end, stir it round a bit so the chickpeas can absorb stuff. If it starts to burn on top you can stir it about a bit or put tin foil loosely over the top. If you still end up with water you don't want to waste that so use it to make the couscous.

This feeds many, many people and serve it with couscous.

Stacey Whittle has demonstrated that the best way to do couscous is to have it with chopped mint and coriander and pomegranate seeds.

Level UP!

This may end up looking like a mess, particularly if you've burned bits of it or left it too long and it goes a bit gooey. You can fix this and win the game by wrapping scoops of tagine-esq in filo pastry parcels, sprinkling caster sugar and almonds on top and return to the oven to cook the pastry. Caster sugar: absolutely.

This will provide a good contrasting texture to keep things interesting while also allowing it to not look like a complete mess. That's helpful.