New Year's Day Tagine

By Luke

New years day across the country starts for many as a bit of a fog. Whether that is due to a little over indulgence the night before or just a weariness from a week of socialising, Christmas dinner-ing and short dark days, my guess is that you are unlikely to jump out of bed on the first of January and decide to spend some serious time in the kitchen. I feel an appropriate meal would be something which could be thrown together and left to stew whilst everyone clears their heads with a little stroll.

My food plan for new years day is a tagine. A tagine is a Moroccan stew made in a special clay pot called a Tagine. These pots can be found in most cookery shops, but any pot with a close fitting lid will do the trick. The idea is to cook your ingredients with a small amount of liquid on a very low heat for a long time. The end result should be thick and hearty not soupy. Try not to peak more than a couple of times as the steam keeps things moist and holds in the flavour. The great thing about them is that you can adapt the recipe to suit what is left in your cupboards and fridge after the festive period.

Serves 4-5

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 squash peeled and chopped into 5cm chunks. Try a Crown Prince variety if you are bored with butternut squash.
2 Aubergines chopped into 3cm chunks
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can chopped tomatoes
400 ml vegetable stock
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp saffron stamens
100 g dried apricots, halved and quavered
20 g sultanas
1 preserved lemon, skin and flesh finely chopped. These little beauties are worth seeking out if you can find them in the supermarket or deli. They add a great depth of flavour to many dishes. If you cant find them, squeeze half a lemon into the pot just before serving.
1 handful fresh parsley

1) Heat the oil over a medium/low heat and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft. ~10 minutes
2) Stir in the cumin, cinnamon, paprika and turmeric.
3) Next add the squash and aubergine. Stir through to coat in the spices and fry for a minute.
4) Then add the stock and rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, stir and reduce the heat as low as possible and simmer with the lid on for an hour. Alternatively place in the oven at 170 for an hour. 5) Check after 40 minutes, if the stew is looking too dry add a splash of water, or if things are looking a bit soupy leave the lid off to evaporate some of the water.
Finally stir through a generous handful of chopped fresh parsley. Serve with a simple side of cous cous, or pita bread.