Here we are in Morocco in 2004. I'm watching a waiter pour us their famous mint tea from a spectacular height without spilling a drop. I had been cooking Moroccan food for years and years thanks to a Time Life Cookbook called A Quintet of Cuisines. So the food was familiar but this wonderful tea ritual was new.
This chicken dish becomes a favorite of anyone who cooks it.
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
8-9 thighs, skin and extra fat removed (kitchen scissors are great)
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half
10 dried dates, pitted and halved or quartered lengthwise
1. Combine all the ingredients for the spice mixture in a large bowl. Add the thighs and coat them well with the mixture. Let the chicken stand, loosely covered, for 1 hour. Can refrigerate for longer, even over night.
2. Place a sauté pan over medium heat and add the chicken, skin side down (I know there is no actual skin). Cover and cook for 20 minutes over low heat; the chicken will cook in its own juices. If the pan gets too dry, add a tablespoon or 2 of water or chicken stock.
3. Zest the 2 lemons, avoiding the bitter white pith as much as possible.
4. Turn the thighs over and sprinkle them with the lemon zest, olives, and dates. Cover and cook another 10 minutes, adding a small amount of water if the mixture is at risk of burning. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins’ The New Basics Cookbook
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