Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chicken Tagine with Fennel

I’ve always known that I liked eating but it wasn’t until about three years ago that I discovered my passion for cooking as well. My husband, whom I’ve known for 13 years, always jokes that my newfound passion makes him wonder if we aren't actually trying to relive our newlywed years when young married couples typically begin to explore the kitchen together, overindulging in delightful dishes and, of course, gain a new waistline to prove it.

In the beginning of my new love affair with cooking I decided I would try to master two different tagines, hoping this would be enough to keep my husband happy while I moved onto other fascinations. But after awhile he realized I “mastered” the tagine sauce so he started bringing home new vegetables for me to use in different combinations. I had never even eaten some of this interesting produce before so I could hardly imagine where to begin with cooking it. Many times I had to call him at work during the day just to ask him how cut something. Fennel was one such strange thing at the time that I hadn't recalled ever eating before. But today I really like it and use it in other recipes besides tagines.

Another unusual Moroccan ingredient my husband introduced me to is colorant alimentaire, a powdery substance used in Moroccan dishes to add or enhance (when combined with saffron) color. I don’t think you can find it outside Morocco and even though we have a box at home I hardly ever use it because I don't like that it is artificial not to mention very messy. I usually substitute with turmeric, just don’t tell my husband!

Chicken Tagine with Fennel

In Morocco it is common to leave the skin on the chicken. Despite this commonality I cook with skinless chicken except for a specific tagine, and this is only on occasion. I usually buy organic halal chicken which the butcher cuts into pieces and removes the skin for me.

1 Chicken cut into serving pieces and skin removed
1 ½ tsp ginger powder
¼ tsp sweet paprika
¼ tsp black pepper
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of colorant alimentaire (or ¼ tsp turmeric)
1 1/2 large onions, diced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
A small handful of cilantro and parsley, tied into a bouquet
4 cups of chicken broth
3 or 4 fennel bulbs

Wash the fennel bulbs and remove the outer layers if they are wilted or damaged before halving them.

Heat oil in Dutch oven and add the chicken. Let chicken get some color turning with a wooden spoon. Add the spices, and then follow with the onions and garlic. Cook a little bit before adding the cilantro and parsley bouquet and chicken broth. Let cook for about 5 to 10 before adding fennel, arranging it around the Dutch oven. Cook until chicken is done and you can easily stick a fork through fennel, about 20 minutes. Discard the cilantro and parsley bouquet, and serve.


  1. I generally don't like fennel, except with rice. does fennel bulbs taste differnt from fennel leaves?

  2. Tastes the same, just milder. I will one of these days post a recipe that I think will make you like fennel.

  3. Nunca comi fennel... nem sei a tradução! Mas turmeric = curcuma, uso também, principalmente nas receitas indianas. Melhor mesmo que o corante artificial! Beijos!

  4. Lu, acho que em portugues se chama Funcho
    Acho que turmeric e curcuma mesmo.

  5. I love fennel so I'm looking forward to this recipe. Linda Rozich


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