Well it's Ramadan, and I've been bombarded with one of two questions - what can I make that's easy, and what can I make that's fast? If you live in Cairo, you know the do - you work, you attempt to rush back home through an avalanche of traffic where everyone else is also attempting to rush back home, and you've got less than a few hours to conjure something up before the sun sets. If you've got visitors, you know you're kind of screwed. Well... no more. The oven and a nice roll of aluminum foil are your best friends tonight.
Actually, they're your friends every night. For the longest time, my tactic has been to throw a bunch of things together into an ovenproof dish, cover them with foil, and have them cook in about 30 minutes while I do something else. It is, technically, a one-pot meal, but in rather than slave over the stovetop, you can slam it in the oven and be done with. Easy? Yes. So this dish is my own take on a far less spicy and much quicker version of a Moroccan chicken and veggie tagine. It looks as well as tastes amazing, but the major advantage is that in approximately 30 minutes, it’s pretty much done – and during Ramadan, ease and quick results are a blessing. In those 30 minutes you can dish up a salad and make some rice, or even start on some side-dishes. That time is yours - use it wisely!
A quick note on the use of veggies in here - some veggies are optional, and you can of course add and subtract types to your liking. Adding peas, green beans, colored capsicums and baby onions all work just as well here. This recipe also calls for chicken breasts out of practicality, but you can also use drumsticks and thighs on the bone, or a whole chicken quartered.
4 or 5 chicken breasts, sliced in half
1 large onion, sliced into half-moons
1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
2 medium carrots, chopped into sticks
1 large or 2 small potatoes, cubed
1 green capsicum, cubed
1 medium eggplant, cubed (optional)
6 small mushrooms, wiped clean (optional)
1 tomato, finely diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup water (or broth)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon thyme
Preheat oven to 240.C
Place onions and minced garlic into ovenproof dish, and mix together, arranging into a bed at the bottom.
Place half the amount of chopped carrots, potatoes, capsicum, and eggplant and mushroom (if you’re using them) onto the bed of onions and garlic
Arrange the chicken pieces on top, and then arrange the remaining chopped vegetables around the chicken pieces.
Season chicken generously with salt and spices.
In a small jug, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and sugar, and stir.
Pour tomato paste mixture evenly over the chicken dish.
Cover firmly with foil, and place it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, until veggies are tender when poked with a fork, and juices are bubbling.
Uncover, and leave to cook for another 10 minutes until juices begins to evaporate slightly.
Serve hot with rice or bread. Enjoy!