Tli Tli Bdjedj – An Algerian dish of orzo pasta and chicken cooked in a North African spiced sauce with chickpeas and garnished with boiled eggs and fresh coriander.
Traditionally the orzo pasta ‘Tli Tli’ would be homemade, so I’m cheating a little by using shop bought. If like me your pasta making skills are non-existent, then I recommend using a good quality i.e. bronze die cut pasta for this and every other pasta dish you ever plan on cooking.
I’ve mentioned before my preference for bronze die cut pasta (see Moroccan Orzo Soup), granted it is a little more expensive than regular pasta but the shape, sauce sucking ability and ‘bite’ you get from bronze die cut pasta is worth the extra pennies, dinars, etc.
You can replace chicken with meat if you like, but as chicken is more widely eaten in Algeria as it’s cheaper than red meat, I stayed traditional. I recommend keeping the skin on the chicken as it cooks, then at serving you may remove it. I feel cooking with the skin on keeps the chicken moist throughout the fairly long cooking time.
A lot of Tli Tli Bdjedj recipes call for North African spice mixes/pastes such as ras el hanout and harissa and although I dearly love to use these in my cooking I didn’t have either on the day of cooking this dish. Instead I used ground spices which most of us have at home already.
- 2 tablespoon clarified butter or oil
- 2 halal whole chicken legs
- 3 spring onions or 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 3/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 stock cube
- 1/2 teaspoon tomato puree
- 60 grams dry chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked or 1/2 400g canned chickpeas, rinsed
- 100 grams orzo pasta
- 2 eggs, boiled
- fresh coriander, chopped
- In a large saute pan fitted with lid over medium heat warm clarified butter (or oil). Saute chicken for around 10 minutes, until skin is golden brown, turning once. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate.
- In the same pan saute onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, spices, tomato puree and chicken cook for a minute or two, stirring often. Add stock cube and enough water to cover chicken, Increase heat, bring to boil then reduce heat to a simmer, cover with lid and allow to cook for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile boil eggs, wash and chop coriander for garnish.
- After an hour add orzo pasta and chickpeas, replace cover and allow to cook for another 10 minutes.
- Serve warm garnished with boiled eggs and coriander.
You get a gentle heat from the use of chili powder in the sauce but you can easily adjust this according to taste, replace with more sweet paprika if you’re cooking for children or even throw in a fresh, pierced green chilli or two for extra heat. If you haven’t a stock cube or prefer not to use them, you can replace with 1 tsp salt and a stick of celery.