Last week I had a longing for the vegetable tagine at Cafe Mogador, one of my favorite spots in New York (read more about it in my best hummus post). It’s comforting, hearty, wholesome, aromatic with so much flavor, perfect with a glass of red wine. I won’t not give credit; they make a pretty good one at Souk (at the Taj in Kolkata and Mumbai). I gave it a shot and made a quinoa vegetable tagine at home.
While it is usually served with cous cous (a type of cracked wheat), I enjoyed it with quinoa + the extra serving of protein always helps. The meaning of the word tagine is actually the dish it’s prepared in – an earthen cone-shaped dish on top of a shallow bowl, the science behind which is part of the cooking technique. I’m sure it adds a certain authenticity but I don’t have a traditional tagine and found that a heavy-bottomed deep pan works just great.
If you read my homemade harissa post, you’ll know that I was amazed at the similarity of spices used in Moroccan cooking to Indian. Turmeric (haldi), cumin seeds (jeera) and ginger are all part of our everyday Indian cooking yet together they add a distinct flavor that feels authentically Moroccan. Plus, they make the dish more palatable to the Indian taste: my grandmother enjoyed it as much as I did.
Go ahead and try this quinoa vegetable tagine out! Don’t skip out on the harissa because it’s absolutely necessary for the right balance of flavor. You can also add in cauliflower, broccoli and any other root vegetables you’d like as well – they aren’t in season here currently so I skipped them. You can also swap out quinoa for traditional cous cous, barley or any other grain you’d like. Just adjust the amount of cooking water accordingly if you are adding/swapping these in. If you’re wondering what else to serve it with, it goes well with hummus, pita bread and if you’re lucky some grilled halloumi or spiced feta. This recipe itself is inherently vegan and gluten-free.
- 80g uncooked quinoa
- 100g soaked/canned chickpeas (about 50g when dry pre-soaking)
- ½ red bell pepper, cut into pieces
- ½ yellow bell pepper, cut into pieces
- 1 medium carrot, cut into pieces
- 1 onion, sliced long
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 25g (about two tbsp) raisins
- 500-600ml water
- 2 tbsp harissa sauce (see blog post www.theindiaedition.com/homemade-harissa)
- Zest of one lemon
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- In a deep heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat, sauté the onions in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add in the chopped ginger and cumin seeds and continue to sauté for another 2 minutes.
- Add in all the remaining ingredients: well-rinsed quinoa, vegetables, raisins, spices, lemon zest and juice and 500ml of water.
- Cook covered on medium heat for 25-30 minutes, checking and stirring periodically.
- Serve immediately.