This dish was a couple of firsts for me – it was the first time I cooked with dried legumes and the first time I added something sweet to a savoury dish. While this tagine or stew, if you will, sounded wonderful when I planned out our dinners this past weekend, once I added in the dates to the dish I kind of panicked for a second. You see, I’ve always been a hater of the sweet/savoury mixed meals – like pork chops and applesauce. But I forged on knowing I loved all the other components of the meal.
Luckily we both loved this dish. It was a mix of savoury and sweet without being overly sweet in a candy-like manner. Since I was on the fence about the addition of the dates, I cut them into small pieces, instead of halves as the original recipe stated, and found that they almost melted into the stew which I loved and made the stew thick. All the flavours of this dish came together so beautifully. The lemon juice at the end adds just the right amount of sourness to offset the sweetness of the dates.
If you go the route of using dried legumes, like I did, make sure to add plenty of water. I was surprised to find that the original recipe states the serving size as 8 because my chickpeas soaked in all 3 cups of water I added in. My end dish would definitely not serve 8 people – which really is stretching it for 3 measly cups of chickpeas anyway. I’d say a more realistic serving size would be 4 servings. Also, the cooking time is increased if you are using dried chickpeas. I cooked my tagine for about 30-40 minutes instead of the 10 minutes from the original dish. However, I’ve found that 10 minutes is way too short a time to properly infuse all the spices of a particular dish into beans. Beans need to be simmered for at least 20-30 minutes for them to take on the flavours of a particular dish.
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup whole-wheat couscous
- 1 cup pitted dates, chopped
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan and add in the onions. Stir and cook the onions until they are translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon and saute for 30 seconds. Add in the tomatoes and chickpeas and 3 cups of water (if using dried chickpeas) or ¼ cup of water for canned chickpeas. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for 45 minutes (for dried beans) or 10 minutes (canned beans)
- Meanwhile, toast the couscous in a medium saucepan for 5 minutes. Stir in 1¼ cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat and let it stand undisturbed for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, fluff the couscous gently with a fork.
- Stir the dates and lemon juice into the tagine and season with salt and pepper. Serve over couscous, sprinkled with cilantro.
Adapted from: Vegetarian Times December 2011, P 55