Tonight, I making a simple two course meal consisting of a Moroccan Kdra called Djej Kdra Touimiya or Chicken Kdra with Almonds and Chick-Peas, green beans, and some fresh fruit for dessert.
A Kdra is a tagine that is cooked with smen (I have to use olive oil), onions, saffron, cinnamon and sometimes ginger, depending on where you live. I am making a Fez version, which is made with a little dried ginger.
I think I was Moroccan in a former life because I am in love with the food, the architecture, the music and the culture in general. My earliest introduction to Moroccan food was when I bought Paula Wolfert’s, Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco, at a cookery shop in Seattle, Washington. The first dish that I tried got me hooked and I have exploring Moroccan food ever since. Since moving to Israel, I have been intrigued even more.
From Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco by Paula Wolfert
1 cup blanced whole almonds
1/2 cup dried chick-peas, soaked overnight or canned (if you must)
1/4 teaspoon pulverised saffron (mixed with a little tumeric)
Salt to taste (omit for kosher chicken)
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil or 2 tablespoons smen
1-1/2 kg (3 to 3 1/2 lb) chicken, quartered
2 medium yellow onions, quartered lengthwise and finely sliced
4 cups chicken stock or water, more if necessary
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
Put the almonds in a pan, cover with cold water and simmer, covered for approximately two hours. Set the almonds aside, submerged in water.
In another saucepan, cover the soaked chick-peas with fresh cold water, boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for one hour. Drain and rinse with cold water. Rub the chick-peas to remove their skins. Discard the skins.
Note: For canned chickpeas, rinse and skin them and set them aside. Do not add them until the chicken has finished cooking.
Place the butter, smen or olive oil in a casserole. Add 1/2 of the saffron-turmeric mixture, the spices and the chicken. Cook on a low flame for two to three minutes. Chop 4 or 5 slices of onion fine and add to the casserole. Add the stock or water. Bring to a boil and add the fresh chick-peas. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, covered.
Add the remaining sliced onions and parsley. Cook for an additional 30 minutes or until the chicken is falling off the bone. Remove the chicken from the casserole. If relevant, add the canned chick-peas to the sauce. Boil the sauce at a high heat, uncovered and reduce the sauce to a thick gravy.
Drain the almonds and add the remaining saffron to the sauce. Cook for an additional two or three minutes and spoon over the chicken. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Serve with couscous or rice.