The key to a tagine, in my view, is the Chermoula. If possible make it the day before; marinade whatever meat you’re using in the chermoula in the morning and give it a first cooking that evening so that the flavours can develop overnight. Preserved lemons and ras al-hanout as flavourings are very important and nigh on impossible to replace. I used flat parsley and mint instead of coriander, in this case because I didn’t have any coriander, but I also find mint a more Maroccan taste. The tagine recipe is from Neil Perry and is very good. There are, of course, a legion of good tagine recipes to check out among which I very much favour those of Claudia Roden but, recommendations aside, I repeat, the chermoula is the key. The cous cous itself is another deal. I make a broth flavoured with similar spices to the chermoula. Firstly I heat the spices in the base of the couscousiere with olive oil. Then I add roughly chopped onions as well as chunks of carrot and potatoes and cover with a good water or a good vegetable stock like Swiss Marigold. Let this broth bubble until the vegetables are softening and then add some chick peas (at this point in the cooking they need to be tinned chick peas or ones that you have previously prepared). You can season the broth with a spoonful of intense tomato sauce or even a spoonful of curry paste. The cous cous grains are cooked in the steam over the broth. First put the cous cous grains in a bowl and add a glass of cold water. Leave the grains to absorb the water for about 10 minutes, then put them in the steamer, with a lid, above the broth. Cook for 15 minutes and remove from the heat. Stir in some butter and cook for a further 15 mins. Then serve cous cous in one bowl, vegetable broth in another and the tagine in its pot. Making a Maroccan flatbread, like one from “Casa Moro”, is a move that you won’t regret.
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