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Moroccan-spiced chicken with butternut squash puree

A fabulous dish for entertaining. The natural sweetness of the butternut squash is the perfect foil for the spiciness of the chicken

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Ingredients (Serves 4)
  • 4 chicken drumsticks and 4 chicken thighs, skin on
  • 15g/1⁄2oz spice mix made with 1⁄2 tsp each of the following ground spices: anise, cayenne pepper, cardamom, coriander, cumin and black pepper, and 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp peeled and finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 50m/2fl oz olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped into 1cm/1⁄2in pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled, cut in half lengthways and sliced on a slant 1cm/1⁄2in thick
  • 4 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tsp gram (chickpea) flour
  • 1ltr/13⁄4pt water
  • 300g/11oz cooked chickpeas
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Small handful chopped fresh coriander to garnish
For the butternut squash purée
  • 11⁄2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 500g/1lb 2oz butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3cm/11⁄4in chunks

Put the chicken thighs and drumsticks in a dish, sprinkle with the spice mix, root ginger and cinnamon and drench with half the olive oil. Turn the chicken pieces so they are wellcoated, cover with clingfilm and marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 130°C, 250°F, Gas 1⁄2.

Heat the remaining oil in a large ovenproof casserole and cook the chicken over a high heat for 5 minutes to colour. Remove from the casserole and reserve.

Tip away half the fat from the casserole, add the onions, celery and carrot and sauté for 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée and gram flour, then return the chicken pieces to the casserole. Pour in the water, season with salt, bring to simmering point then cover with a lid and transfer to the oven.

Cook for 30 minutes, adding the chickpeas for the final 10 minutes. When the chicken is cooked, add the lemon juice to the cooking juices, taste and adjust the seasoning if required.

For the butternut squash, heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic without browning. Turn down the heat, add the diced squash then cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook gently until the squash will mash with a fork. Transfer to a liquidiser and blend, adding just enough water to loosen the mixture. Blend until smooth then season.

Serve the casserole sprinkled with chopped coriander with the butternut squash purée in a large serving dish, accompanied with hunks of fresh bread for mopping up the juices.

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