Tunisian tajine, tagine, or frittata with chicken, potatoes, peas, and lots of spices. Discover some new flavors with this easy recipe.
What is a Tunisian tajine?
You might all have heard of a North African tajine, especially a Moroccan tajine. That is a dish named after an earthenware pot in which it is cooked, slow-cooked stews made with poultry, meat, or fish together with vegetables, dried fruit, lots and lots of spices, and yummy things like preserved lemons, for instance.
However, a Tunisian tajine or Tajine maadnous is a completely different dish. It is a kind of frittata, a bit similar to an Italian frittata or a Spanish tortilla.
The Tajine maadnous is something you can enjoy not only in Tunisia but also in parts of Algeria. Other similar dishes can also be found in other North African countries, Egypt for instance. The Egyptians call their egg dish Tagen or eggah.
Basically, the Tunisian tajine is a dish made with lots of eggs mixed with meat and vegetables, nicely spiced and baked in the oven. An exquisite meal, I am telling you!
I've made this Tunisian frittata a couple of weeks ago for four adults and 3 children. I used the largest baking dish I have, whisked a huge batch of eggs, and made a good large couscous salad to serve with the frittata. I thought that would be more than enough for all of us.
Well, I was wrong. Despite the large and filling curried couscous salad, the food was just not enough. The kids adored it and had 3 pieces each, which was something I could not have predicted.
Bottom line, I was only able to eat one single piece of frittata myself, although I could have demolished 3 pieces on my own as well... Thank God, there was enough couscous salad there (the kids only ate about 1 spoonful of it each), or I would have had to make myself a cheese sandwich for lunch.
And check out How to Cook Quail Eggs.
How to make a Tunisian tajine
- Start by cooking the onions, chicken, and potatoes. I used equal amounts of chicken and potatoes and cooked the mixture until the potatoes were almost done. I had to check quite a few times in between and added a small splash of water from time to time.
- The potatoes were diced quite finely, about 1 cm/ 0.4 inches, and needed about 8-10 minutes of cooking time until almost done. But start checking after 5 minutes or so.
- I added 150 g/ 1 cup of peas towards the end of the cooking time. They don't need to be defrosted before you add them to the pan.
- I had Gouda cheese. However, Cheddar, Gruyère, and even Parmesan (or a mixture) can be used instead.
- When it comes to spices, be generous! This Tunisian frittata should be bold in taste, and more flavorful than an Italian frittata or a Spanish tortilla. I used turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper, ground cumin, ground coriander, and ras-el-hanout to spice the tajine.
What is Ras-el-hanout
Ras-el-hanout is a wonderful North African spice mixture, which I also used in this recipe for Moroccan Chicken Stew with Olives and Tomatoes. The name can be translated as “head of the shop”, meaning that each shop selling it has its own version of ras-el-hanout and that they all use the best spices in their shop to make this spice mixture.
The ras-el-hanout I have contains a special sort of pepper – piper cubeba and several other pepper sorts like long pepper, black pepper, and monk's pepper. Also, coriander, ginger, cumin, cardamom, fennel seeds, turmeric, nutmeg, galgant, cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaves.
Don't worry if you buy a jar of ras-el-hanout to make this recipe; you will be able to use it in so many different ways.
I put it into soups, for instance. Try it in a pumpkin soup, any kind of soup using chickpeas or beans, either beef soup or a vegetarian kind.
I also use ras-el-hanout to rub chicken breasts or drumsticks with it (mixed with a little olive oil), I sprinkle it on oven-roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes, put it in sweet potato, pumpkin, or chickpea salads, and use small amounts of it to flavor hummus or other bread spreads.
How to serve?
When the Tunisian frittata is baked, let it rest for 10 minutes. Cut into 8 rectangles and serve either warm or cold.
You could serve it with tomato sauce, mint yogurt sauce, or yogurt sauce. On the side, you could make tabbouleh, bulgur, or couscous salad, a green salad with vinaigrette, or a tomato and onion salad. I also like to eat some pickles with this kind of egg dish.
The Tunisian tajine is a great food to take to a picnic or potluck party.
More African recipes
- Baking dish ca 8x8 inches/ 20x20 cm
- 1 medium onion
- 9 oz chicken breasts 250 g
- 9 oz potatoes 250 g
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon ras-el-hanout
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup frozen peas 150 g
- ¼ cup water + a little more as needed 60 ml
- 8 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 cup grated cheese divided (for instance: Gouda, Cheddar, Gruyère, etc), 100 g
- Preheat the oven to 350°F7 180°C. Grease the baking dish.
- Chop the onion finely. Dice the chicken into small cubes. Dice the potatoes into 0.5 inch/ 1 cm small cubes.1 medium onion + 9 oz chicken breasts7 250 g + 9 oz potatoes/ 250 g
- Cook: Heat the oil in a large skillet or frying pan. Cook the onion until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Add the chicken cubes, coriander, cumin, turmeric, ras-el-hanout, cayenne, black pepper, and salt. Stir for about 2 minutes.1 teaspoon ground coriander + ½ teaspoon ground cumin + 1 teaspoon turmeric + 1 tablespoon ras-el-hanout + ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper + ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper + ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Add the diced potatoes and the water. Saute for 5 to 10 minutes until the potatoes are almost cooked through. Add a little more water during this time, if necessary, and stir often. When the potatoes are almost done, add the peas and stir for a few more minutes.¼ cup water + a little more as needed + 1 cup frozen peas
- Assemble tajine: In the meantime, whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add the parsley and about ¾ of the grated cheese and stir well. Add the chicken and potato mixture to the eggs, stir quickly, and pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.8 large eggs + 2 tablespoons chopped parsley + 1 cup grated cheese, divided
- Bake for about 35 minutes or until set in the middle and golden. Let rest for 10 minutes and cut into 8 rectangles.
- Serve warm or at room temperature as suggested above.