This is not the sickly sweet apricot chicken that Gran used to make. The apricots are there, in every texture, but this version is spiced, piquant with hits of preserved lemon and served with a tabbouleh of sorts that does all kinds of wondrous things when stirred through at the very end.
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 heaped tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
1 heaped tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed
1 tsp ground cloves
½ tbsp ground cardamom
2 cinnamon quills
pinch of saffron (about 10 threads)
1 bay leaf
1kg skinless chicken thighs, halved
1 cup apricot nectar
1 cup chicken stock
1 preserved lemon, thinly sliced
1 cup dried apricots
½ cup tinned apricots, strained
¼ cup chopped coriander leaves
¼ cup chopped mint leaves
1 red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup pistachio kernels, roughly chopped
streamed rice or cous cous, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Put the oil in a large tagine or six-cup capacity ovenproof dish over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent.
3. Add the spices, saffron and bayleaf and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the remaining ingredients, cover and place in the oven for one hour.
4. Remove the lid, gently stir the ingredients and cook for another 10 to 20 minutes, either in the oven or on the stovetop, until the liquid has reduced by about half. Stir regularly as the sugar in the apricots and juice can burn.
5. Serve topped with fresh herbs, onion and pistachio, and with steamed rice or cous cous.