Moroccan baked chicken with chickpeas and rice
1 to 2 hours
Equipment and preparation: You will need a wide, shallow, flameproof casserole with a domed lid, about 23cm/9in across the base. Failing that, use any flameproof casserole of 3 litres/5 pints capacity.
1 to 2 hours
- 1x1.5-2kg/3½-4lb chicken, jointed in 8 pieces (or you could use a pack of 8 drumsticks and thighs)
- 110g/4oz dried chickpeas
- 175g/6oz brown basmati rice
- 2 fresh chillies, halved, de-seeded and finely chopped
- 1 rounded tsp cumin seeds
- 1 level tbsp coriander seeds
- ½ tsp saffron stamens
- 2x15g packs or 30g/1oz fresh coriander
- 2 small thin-skinned lemons
- 2 large yellow peppers
- 2 large onions
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 275ml/10fl oz carton good chicken stock
- 150ml/5fl oz dry white wine
- 50g/2oz pitted black olives
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and freshly milled black pepper
There are two ways to deal with chickpeas. The easiest is to pop them into a bowl, cover them with cold water and leave them overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours. But, if it slips your mind, what you can do is place them in a saucepan, cover them with cold water and bring them up to the boil for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let them soak for 3 hours. Either way, when you want to start making this recipe, the chickpeas need to be simmered for 20 minutes or until tender.
While they're simmering, place a small frying pan over direct medium heat, add the cumin and coriander seeds and toss them around in a hot pan for about 2-3 minutes or until they start to dance and change colour. Then remove the seeds to a pestle and mortar and crush them coarsely and transfer them to a plate. Next, crush the saffron stamens to a powder with the pestle and mortar, then squeeze out the juice of one of the lemons and add it to the saffron, stirring well.
Then prepare the chicken by seasoning the joints with salt and pepper. Slice the peppers in half, remove the seeds and pith and cut each half intolarge pieces. The onions should be sliced roughly the same size as the peppers. Now heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in the flameproof casserole and, when it's really hot, brown the chicken pieces on all sides - don't overcrowd the pan; it's best to do it in two batches, four pieces at a time.
After that, remove the chicken pieces to a plate, then add the second tablespoon of oil and turn the heat to its highest setting. When the oil is really hot, add the peppers and onions and cook them in the hot oil, moving them around until their edges are slightly blackened - this should take about 5 minutes - then turn the heat down. Strip the coriander leaves from the stalks, wrap them in a piece of clingfilm and keep them in the fridge. Then chop the coriander stalks finely and add these to the peppers and onions, along with the garlic, chillies, crushed spices, the chickpeas and rice, then give everything a good stir to distribute all the ingredients.
Season well with salt and pepper, then combine the lemon and saffron mixture with the stock and wine, pour it all in to the casserole and stir well. Cut the remaining lemon into thin slices and push these well into the liquid. Now scatter the olives in and, finally, place the pieces of chicken on top of everything. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place in the pre-heated oven for one hour or until the rice and chickpeas are tender. Then, just before serving, scatter the coriander leaves on top and serve straight away on warmed serving plates.