One could say that a tagine is simply the Moroccan rendition of the mighty casserole. We have travelled the world and one thing I find fascinating is that most cultures have a version of the same thing … think noodles, bread, soup, tea … and casserole.
In Turkey they cook meat and vegetables in clay pots, in India they use beautiful ebony Longpi pottery, in South America they use La Chamba pottery, the French would use a Le Creuset dish – all put into some sort of oven and baked. In Australia we might use a slow cooker or a Pyrex dish. In Morocco, they use tagines with their distinctive conical lids.
All these methods of cooking keep the juices and flavours in and create a little ceremony and aplomb in the serving. We love the variety of the cultural differences and the connection of food and cooking to family and friends. We also love that many of vessels mentioned are made by local craftsmen using traditional methods that have been passed down through the ages. They use few resources to make and are totally sustainable.
In our recent tour of Morocco we certainly came across a tagine or two!! The meat is moist and piping hot. It simply melts in your mouth. The vegetables are well cooked in the spices and juices and add some colour to the dish. Tagines are served usually served with soft fluffy couscous.
Tagines are typically terra cotta and that makes sense as clay is cheap and plentiful in Morocco. The charming and unique shape of the tagine has become an emblem of Morocco and adapted to suit it function as a styling and decorative item. Now ceramic glazed tagines have beautiful patterns and colours on them. Miniature tagines are a gorgeous serving solution for condiments, jams, olives, and the like. They certainly enhance the breakfast table! And sometimes they are embellished with silver nickel decorations that make them not so functional but do add an exotic Moroccan vibe to any styling vignette in any room. They look great as a centrepiece and are impressive when entertaining. Reach out to us at email@example.com for specific tagine requirements.
Tagine recipes can feature meat, chicken or fish or can also be vegetarian. There really is no limit to what you can cook in a tagine. For an authentic Moroccan tagine you will need herbs and spices such as cumin, ginger, turmeric, garlic, saffron and chilli - so you can see that tagine is a great choice if you are health conscious too. Preserved lemons, dried fruits, nuts, beans are also added in some recipes. As the baking happens the juices caramelise on the edges of the tagine giving the dish depth and flavour. Something you cannot achieve by simmering a stew on the stove.
In Fes, we enjoyed a cooking lesson. Our delightful host demonstrated the making of tagines – lamb and vegetarian – and whilst we helped a little, we mostly simply tucked into the results. All the ingredients were fresh from the souk bought just moments before.
We thought we would share the recipe and encourage you to give making a tagine a go!! It is so simple – chop, throw, mix, bake! Voila!
1 red onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp. ginger, ground
1 tbsp. cumin, ground
1 tbsp. cinnamon, ground
1 tbsp. sweet paprika
1 tbsp. turmeric
1.0kg lamb shoulder, diced into cubes
2 tins tomatoes (400g @)
250g stoned prunes, roughly chopped
500ml chick stock
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tin chickpeas, 400g drained and rinsed
Juice of ½ lemon
400g sweet potato or potatoes, peeled and chopped into 3cm piece
2 zucchinis, chopped into 3cm piece
80g shelled pistachios, toasted in a dry pan
100g pomegranate seeds
Couscous or flatbread
Preheat oven to 200 C
Fry the onions in a large splash of oil on the stove, for about 4 minutes until they colour
Add garlic and all the spices and fry for 3 more minutes
Stirring with a wooden spoon
Season the lamb with salt and then add to the pot.
Then add the tomatoes, prunes, stock, and sugar and bring to simmer until nicely combined
Add 100ml water
Transfer to the oven in tagine and bake for 1 hour.
Add the vegetables and cook for another 40mins. Fold through the parsley and coriander.
If you would like to, in the last 30mins add the chickpeas and lemon juice.
Add the serving ingredients. Enjoy!