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Saturday, 18 June 2011

Morrocan Casserole

These are the ingredients for my morrocan base sauce. To this you can add whatever takes your fancy: vegetables, lamb or chicken etc.

The thing about our way of eating is that it has to be satisfying. This casserole can be as spicy as you want, and is very warm and comforting. The casserole will make about 4 good portions, and delivers so many flavours all at once. It can be eaten with or without rice, with a pitta or just some crusty bread. I can't recall the total number of calories for the base sauce, but with 100g of chicken per portion, the whole dish will contain around 350 calories.

The dish contains quite a few spices, and I fiddle around with them sometimes, especially if I want something hotter.

1 tablespoon GROUND CORIANDER
2 teaspoons each TURMERIC & PAPRIKA
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
440g tin chopped tomatoes
Small tin butter beans (or haricot etc if you prefer)
100g red lentils (pre-boiled for a minute or two first)
Small piece of ginger
Handful of sultanas
Handful of almonds
About 3 cloves of garlic - use less if you don't like it or leave out
Couple of medium sized onions
2 WHOLE red chillies (whole dried will do)
1 stock cube - veg/chicken/lamb, whatever you have
Bag of fresh spinach (if you like)

Fry the onions in small amount of oil until softened. I use olive oil, as it is supposed to be healthier, and the only oil I have to hand anyway. Add the spices, garlic and ginger. Fry this gently for a couple of minutes. DO NOT add the whole chillies to the frying pan, as these go into the pot in one piece and they are removed at the end of cooking.

Put the fried mix into a pot. Add the stock cube which has been mixed with around 1/2 pint of water. Add the tin of tomatoes, pre-cooked lentils, butter beans and finally the sultanas and almond flakes. Then pop in the WHOLE chillies, which are there to permeate the dish and give a slow lingering gentle heat.

Add any meat at this stage - you could put in SKINNED chicken thighs (then remove bones later), or chicken breast, or lean lamb. The lamb is a bit expensive. Occasionally I have browned some good quality sausages and put these in.

Bring to the boil then simmer for around an hour or so if cooking on the hob. If using a slow cooker like me, I will put this on and go off somewhere for 4 hours before looking at it again.

You may want to add further vegetables. So add any you fancy. I have put in sliced carrots, turnips and sometimes potato if I am particularly hungry and do not have any bread to eat with it. Add the veg about half an hour before the end of cooking time. Just remember if you are using the slow cooker that any veg must be brought to the boil so it is fully heated through, in a separate pan first, then added to the dish, I would add the boiled veg about an hour before the end of the slow cooking time is up.

Oh do not forget to remove those 2 red chillies before dishing up!

As a final touch, I usually throw in a couple of handfuls of spinach. It looks lovely and tastes great.

The dish benefits from cooling down and reheating the next day. In fact I doubt you will be able to wait that long, as the smell is fantastic and you will be dipping into it way before then. I've even eaten it cold as it is just so tasty, and fits perfectly inside a warm pitta bread.

The lentils and butter beans (or chickpeas if you want)bulk out the dish and will fill you up for much longer.

A beautiful spicy warm dish, much healthier because you have prepared it all yourself. Hope you enjoy. It certainly is one of my favourite dishes.

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