The summer after she graduated, Phoebe and her mother traveled around Morocco together. She invented this sweet and savory chicken stew shortly after she got back, and it was her contribution to the second cook-off with Keith, captured on the blog in January 2009. Since then, she has revised this tagine to include sweet potatoes, which means you don’t need another carb to make it a complete meal. Still, couscous and quinoa are great (if you don’t mind another pot), but a loaf crusty bread to soak up the juices works even better.
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Coat a large pot or Dutch oven with a thin layer of olive oil. Heat it over high heat and brown the chicken, in batches, making sure not to crowd the pot. If the chicken sticks to the bottom, don’t worry — this will help develop the flavor of the sauce. Remove the browned chicken from the pot and set it aside in a mixing bowl.
Add the onions to the same pot, reduce the heat to medium-low, and sauté until translucent, making sure to scrape up any remaining drippings from the chicken, about 7 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, cumin, turmeric, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt. Cook until the spices are fully incorporated and aromatic, about 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot, and add the tomatoes and chickpeas. Toss to combine.
Pour in enough stock to submerge all the contents (this may be less than 1 quart, depending on the size of your pot) and bring to a summer. Turn the heat back down to low and cook, uncovered, for at least 2 hours, the longer the better.
During the last 30 minutes or so of cooking, add the sweet potatoes, submerge them in the liquid, and cook until tender.
Add the raisins, half the cilantro, and the lemon juice. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Spoon the tagine into individual bowls. Garnish each bowl with some of the remaining cilantro, sprinkle with the almonds (if using), and serve.