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Chicken Tagine with Sweet Tomato Sauce

This is a great dish for a buffet because it can be made ahead and served warm or at room temperature.

Plus: More Chicken Recipes and Tips

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

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  • 4 pounds plum tomatoes—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt
  • 2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • One large pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
  • One 3 1/2-pound chicken, quartered
  • 1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds


  1. In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the tomatoes with 1/4 cup of the oil, 2 cinnamon sticks, the ground cinnamon and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook over moderate heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2/3 cup of the sugar and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until the tomato sauce is glossy and thick, about 30 minutes longer.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large enameled cast-iron casserole, mix the water with the remaining 1/2 cup of oil, 4 cinnamon sticks and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Add the ginger, salt, white and black pepper and saffron. Add the chicken, turn to coat and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately low heat for 25 minutes, turning occasionally. Tie the parsley and cilantro into a bundle and add it to the casserole. Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes longer.
  3. In a small skillet, toast the sesame seeds over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  4. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter and spoon the tomato sauce on top. Garnish with the sesame seeds and serve hot or at room temperature.

Make Ahead

The sauce and chicken can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated separately for up to 2 days. Rewarm before garnishing and serving.

Suggested Pairing

An acidic and slightly sweet rosé will echo similar flavors in this tagine.

Contributed By Published February 2003

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