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Padma Lakshmi isn't letting a pandemic stop her from making elegant meals at home. However, due to being homebound, the Bravo's Top Chef host is finding creative ways to adapt standard recipes using what she has on hand.
In the video above, Padma shows BravoTV.com the step-by-step process of making her adapted Moroccan chicken tagine recipe, and the results look incredible.
"I love Moroccan food," she says in the video above. "Moroccan food is so sophisticated and delicious."
Prompted by her daughter, Krishna, to define tagine, Padma explained that it's a Moroccan meal ("usually it's made with lamb, but they do it also with chicken") that also shares a name with the physical ceramic dish it is cooked in. "It is a vessel that you cook in and you basically slow cook/steam cook things in here," she explains. "By the end of it, the meat should just fall off the bone."
For those who don't have a tagine on hand, "you can always use a dutch oven, that would be fine, or any deep pot that you have," Padma says. "Just use a really heavy lid."
She notes: "Use a pan bigger than you think you're going to need so you have at least half of the pan empty, because that creates steam."
The base of the dish consists of grocery store staples including onions, garlic and ginger. In a separate dish, Padma powders saffron before adding it to a cup of "very hot or boiling" water for later use as she happily declares: "To me it smells of Indian desserts and Iranian food."
Padma also adds preserved lemons to the meal, something she says are easy to have at home. "Just put [the lemon] in a jar with lots of rock salt or sea salt," she explains. "Put it in the back of your cupboard and shake it up once every couple of weeks."
While radishes aren't typically part of the dish, Padma had the vegetable on hand so she added them in for some extra nutrition. "I don't know if that's authentic or not," she told Krishna, "but you need vegetables."
While Ras El Hanout ("similar to garam masala or baharat from Turkey," Padma explains) is a key part of the meal, for those who don't have the Moroccan spice blend on hand, she suggests using a pinch of cumin powder and curry powder as a replacement. "It's not the same thing exactly," she admits. "But we've got to make do with what we have now."
In addition to excluding green olives, which are typically a part of the recipe, because she doesn't have olives of any variety at home at the moment, another adaptation Padma makes is the use of bay leaves. Noting that Moroccans may not use fresh bay leaves in certain dishes, she declares in the video: "I have an exorbitant amount of fresh bay leaves, so I am going to use them."
To see the step-by-step recipe guide for making Padma's adapted chicken tagine at home, and get a refresher on proper knife-holding technique, watch the video above!
Want more of Top Chef? New episodes air every Thursday at 10/9c or catch up on this season through the Bravo app.
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