claudia roden

moroccan fruit tagine

When I run out of new ideas (and haven’t been shopping for ages) I turn back to my trusty friend Claudia Roden for dinner inspiration.

For example, yesterday I only had 2 onions, some chicken, a bunch of parsley and a bowl of fruit in my kitchen. Oh and some tomatoes and fennel – but I didn’t use those …

And a cupboard overflowing with spices …

What to cook?

I just leafed through ‘A New Book of Middle Eastern Food’ until I found a suitable recipe.

A few tweaks, and this is what I made.

Moroccan Fruit Tagine

3 chicken breasts (Claudia suggests a large roasting chicken, jointed, but I just had 3 chicken breasts …)
2 onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of parsley, chopped
2-3 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and pepper
500 grams peeled, cored and sliced fruit.  You can use apples, pears, quinces, fresh dates, raisins or prunes. I chose pears.

Put the chicken, onion and parsley in a saucepan and cover with water. Add the butter and ginger and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then simmer for an hour. The sauce should be reduced and the onions disintegrated.


Here we are after nearly an hour with the chicken cooking and the sauce reducing. Nearly ready for the fruit.

Then add the sliced fruit and simmer until just tender.  Only about 5 minutes for the pears.

Serve with rice or cous cous or flatbread to dip in to the sauce.

Sounds good. Looks interesting.  Tastes great.

We ate it with rice.  

Oh, I love Claudia. I really do!


who’d have thought prunes could taste so good …

Last night I cooked prunes. I’m always a bit nervous about prunes because Clive often tells a story about burnt prunes and custard …. one of his mum’s ‘specialties’ apparently when he was a child.  Actually, I am sure that it didn’t happen that often, and that Jennie didn’t mean to burn the prunes – I imagine that wrangling 5 children would result in the occasional meal disaster  –  it’s nice of Clive to keep the memory alive though …

So when I cook this dish I go by the official name of Moroccan Tagine with Fruit and Honey. I think it sounds better than lamb with prunes. But really that’s all it is. Prunes aren’t my favourite thing either, so to tell you the truth I am amazed that it tastes sooo good.

Elise and I recently cooked 100 serves of this for the school makers market. We offered it with cous cous and a freekah and pomegranite salad and cumin yoghurt. Last night we just had it with couscous and herbs.

With no complaints from the kids I was very happy. Especially since Clive was home late.

I don’t know whether I’ve sold it to you thus far, but this really is a delicious recipe. Thanks Claudia Roden, you’re the best!  Anne (a teacher at school) I am writing this recipe down for you!

Moroccan Tagine with Fruit and Honey

1 kg lamb, preferably leg, cubed
2 to 3 tablespoons of oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 onion finely chopped
250 g prunes soaked overnight (or softened in boiling water for a bit works fine …)
1 to 2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
Roasted or grilled sesame seeds to garnish

Put the meat in a large saucepan, cover with water and add oil, ginger, salt and pepper to taste, coriander, cinnamon and the finely chopped onion. Bring to the boil, cover the pan and simmer very gently until the meat is tender and the water has become a rich sauce. This will take about two hours.

Add the prunes and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the honey and cook for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with orange blossom water and grilled or roasted sesame seeds when serving.  So easy!  So good!


Note the lovely blue plate … this is an authentic 1970s number from my childhood.  I remember it used to be on display in our kitchen when I was little.