Imagine sitting in a dimly lit room, when suddenly a stranger walks in, throws open the curtains and turns on the light. Those two small gestures can alter the scene. That’s what I experienced this week when Effi joined our staff. A petite Israeli woman, of Moroccan descent, our conversation quickly turned to food. I told her that I was heading East for Passover, and that we were having a traditional Ashkenazi Seder, but as I stood there speaking, I already knew that change was in the air, that things were about to shift. Effi talked about her traditional dishes, some of which I would not be able to make, dishes with rice and corn and peas, dishes made with lamb cooked over low heat for several hours. There was more, and just a few minutes later I walked away with recipes for a Moroccan beet salad, a variation of Matbucha, and a delicious tagine made with dried fruit and a touch of cinnamon. Effi told me that she serves sweet dishes for a sweet Passover. That’s where the differences ended, and the essence of what we both wanted for Passover converged. Wishing you a Zisn Pesach.
Effi’s Turkey or Chicken Tagine
2 Tb olive oil and more as needed
3 lbs. chicken or turkey thighs, cubed
3 large brown onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup dried prunes
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 Tb chicken bouillion
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp cumin
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a heavy bottomed pot, brown turkey thigh in 2 Tb. olive oil, sprinkling generously with salt and pepper. Once turkey meat is golden, remove to plate along with any liquid that accumulated on the bottom of the pot. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and all the sliced onions to pot. Add 1/2 tsp sugar and saute onions till dark golden brown. Remove half the sautéed onions to a plate. Scatter half of the apricots and prunes on top of the onions. Place turkey meat back into the pot. Add remaining apricots and prunes and then top with remaining onions. In a small bowl combine warm water with salt, pepper, cumin, chicken powder and cinnamon. Stir well and pour over meat. Cover pot and place in oven for 2-3 hours. Serves 4-6
Note: Effi said that sometimes she adds walnut halves on top of the first layer of walnuts.