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Apr 19, 2008 12:38 PM

Is Moroccan chicken supposed to be sweet?

I made if for the first time today and i'm not too familiar with morrocan food.
I find it a bit sweet and i was just curious if that's how it's supposed to be or if i've added too much fruit and brown sugar.

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  1. Every recipe is different, but I don't think sweet is usually what one is going for with moroccan chicken (although quite often it is served with a fruit- sweetened couscous. I think normally some hot and savory spices counterbalance the sweetness. What besides fruit and brown sugar was in the chicken?

    2 Replies
    1. re: LulusMom

      Possibly - if the OP is making a version of pastilla.

      The pigeon and filo pie is very sweet - and I see Wikipedia says that in the US its more usual to make it with chicken. Perhaps the OP's recipe for it (or something similar) is just called Moroccan Chicken.

      I regularly make a chicken tagine. Chicken, tin tomatoes, harissa, cumin, coriander, veg like carrot & turnip, tin chickpeas. Served with couscous - to which I usually add parsley, chopped dried apricots & Ras-al-Hanout. Even if I say it myself, it's rather fab

      1. re: LulusMom

        the recipe called for figs, apricots and brown sugar. I only added the figs and sugar (not a fan of apricots) and the spices (cumin, tumeric, cinnamon, cardamon)
        I think i'll try throwing some chili's in the leftovers and try the kill the sweet a bit.

        I had no idea there was so many different versions of this recipe!

      2. There really isn't one "Moroccan chicken." There are a number of authentic and, I gather, traditional preparations, ranging from sweeter to savory, like Harters' tagine. Chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemons is a popular one. I make that savory one using a recipe from "Couscous & Other Good Food From Morocco," by Paula Wolfert. And another I make a good bit from the same book is with prunes and onions, with the prunes sending that tagine to the sweeter side.

        Last spring, when Claudia Roden's "Arabesque" was the Chowhound Cookbook of the Month, I began making her chicken tagine with onions and honey. Yes, other ingredients balance the honey, but it does give the dish a sweet note. And the filo pie Harters references, I'd definitely call sweet based on the versions I've eaten.

        Beef and lamb dishes play along that same sweeter-to-savory spectrum. The Wolfert book mentioned above is a wonderful guide to Moroccan fare if it's a cuisine you're interested in exploring. As is the Moroccan section in Arabesque, which also includes Turkish and Lebanese recipes.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Old Spice

          i've seen recipes online for "tangine". Isn't that a clay pot?

          1. re: hotsauce28

            tagine refers to a stew as well as to the moroccan cone domed clay vessel in which it is traditionally cooked. but you don't have to own a tagine to cook a tagine. In Arabic a "taajeen" is a wet stew dish.

            I have never added brown sugar to a tagine recipe, but I noticed a sweetness sometimes from the dried fruit ingredients like dates or dried apricots, and also some veggies like carrots since they soften so much and release sweetness. I prefer savory to sweet so I am not sure if I like that. I guess you could try it without the brown sugar to cut down on the sweetness if you don't like the effect, or try some recipe that doesn't call for dried fruit at all. I noticed that the sweetness factor is also heightened by the cinnamon and other types of spices used for sweets in Western cooking. But perhaps w/out the fruit and sugar so forth you will get a result you like better.

          2. re: Old Spice

            "Arabesque" is a good introduction to recipes from that part of the world. The Moroccan section is particularly interesting if you are also interested in Spanish cuisine - the roots of much of it can easily be seen on the southern side of the Straits of Gibralter.

            Her books of "Middle East Cooking" and "Jewish Cooking" are also good ones to add to your bookshelves.

            1. re: Harters

              Thanks, that's perfect!
              The b/f is a middle eastern jew and I'd love to check out some Spanish cuisine. Haven't had any luck finding good authentic Spanish restaurants.

              1. re: hotsauce28

                I think you can have some recipe fun in that case. Get all 3 books!

                There's Jewish influences on Spanish cuisine as well. They call the big white butterbeans "Judias" (Jews) because when there was large community in Spain, they were well known for their bean dishes

                1. re: hotsauce28

                  You could also try the Moro books, which feature Moorish as well as Spanish cuisine.

                  1. re: greedygirl

                    Just went on Amazon and found only one book under Arabesque (Taste of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon). Is there a separate on for Spanish cuisine?
                    And i found 2 Moro books, The Moro cookbook and Casa Moro. Do you recommend one over the other?

                    1. re: hotsauce28

                      Arabesque is a wonderful book, and I believe Roden is still working on a book of Spanish recipes. I've really enjoyed cooking from a book by Penelope Casas, Delicioso, for Spanish cooking. Not familiar w/ the Moro books.

                      1. re: hotsauce28

                        I think what greedygirl & I are really suggesting is that if you got the three Roden books (or maybe Arabesque and the Jewish one) and one of the Moro ones you could really have some fun seeing how Spanish, Moroccan and Sephardic Jewish cuisine have overlaps and draw influences from each other.

                        Personally, I would go for the Moro Cookbook for the best spread of recipes.

              2. a bit tangential, but my local indian restaurant serves a chicken kashmir with dried apricots, dates, and cashews that is super spicy and amazingly delicious. i love that sweet/spicy combo.

                1 Reply
                1. re: beelzebozo

                  have you ever tried to do it at home? I love trying something in restaurants and figuring out how to make it.

                2. I think that often we in the West perceive the warm spices used in Eastern cuisine as "sweet" and therefore used only for desserts. Part of the "sweetness" may simply be out of that perception. Most of us opt for savory flavors with meat. I think the sweet, however, is a wonderful complement.

                  Still, I like an acidic component when I am making Moroccan dishes. The preserved lemons of that region are wonderful for this, whether used in the dish or as a condiment on the table. The acid/salt meeting the sweet/fat is quite delicious.

                  There are many recipes for preseved lemons on CH, and way too many threads to list here. I would suggest using the CH search for "preserved lemons." You will find many ways to make the pickle, and ways to use them in your dishes.

                  The lemon pickle really does balance the sweetness beautifully.