In our previous post, we promised a little something for all the foodies out there. We are keeping to our word because this post is going to be all about tagines, the best tagines and tagines galore! We will be sharing a recipe that will keep you wanting more and even throw in a tip or two on how to care for your tagine.
So what is a tagine you may ask? Firstly originated in Northern Africa from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, it is an earthen cookware traditionally made from clay or ceramic. It usually has a round shallow base with a dome shaped head. Although its bigger sizes may come in a square base and with a pyramid shape top.
In modern times, people are more inclined to use cookwares like pressure cooker or the creuset (a French cast-iron) to mimic the same cooking style. However one thing that sets the best tagines apart from modern cookware is the flavour in which the clayware imparts into the food, giving the dish a more flavorful and palatable finish. The best tagines are the well-used ones, as the more it is used and strenghten, the better the food tastes.
The dish that is cooked in the tagine is also called a tagine (some tagine-ception going on there) It’s a slow cooked savoury dish consisting of meat, fish and vegetable. Spices, fruits and nuts are also used. It is authentically served alongside couscous, but serving with rice or bread taste equally delightful as well. One must note that cooking the best tagines requires the utmost patience. But, trust me when I said you will be deliciously rewarded for it. Here’s a simple recipe you could follow
RECIPE – MOROCCAN LAMB AND APRICOT TAGINE
Serving size: 4
Dried Apricots – 115g / 4oz
Butter – 45g / 1½oz
Diced Lamb – 550g / 1½lb
Ras el Hanout spice blend – 4tsp
Onion – 1 large, grated
Fresh Coriander – 4tbsp cut
Pomegranate seeds – 1 handful (Optional)
Sea Salt – to taste
1. On a separate pot, cover the apricots with boiling water and leave it to soak.
2. Melt the butter in the tagine over low heat
3. Mix in the onion, lamb and ras el hanout spice and gently cook for 2-3 minutes (do not let the lamb brown)
4. Add 3 tbsp of coriander and enough water to just cover the meat
5. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for an hour.
6. Add the apricots and their liquid, some sea salt to taste and continue to gently simmer for another 30 minutes.
7. Serve garnished with coriander and pomegranate.
A simple recipe that goes great with couscous or rice.
This is one of many hundreds of the best tagine recipes out there. One of our many favorites recipes to follow is from cooking with Alia. As a Moroccan herself, her dishes are authentic and easy to follow.
Most if not all of the best tagines are made from ceramic which means they are very fragile and delicate. Taking care of a tagine is similar to taking care of a newborn in a sense that is has to be handled with lots of tender, love and care. Caring for it is fairly easy and here is how you can upkeep it pre, during and post cooking.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR TAGINE BEFORE USE:
Before the first use of the tagine, it should be seasoned to strengthen it and to remove any raw clay taste.
Time Required: Several Hours Overnight
1. Soak the lid and the base in water for at least 2 hours, or overnight. As some of this earthenware is quite large, you may need to get creative. If you can’t find something large enough to accommodate the top of a tagine, invert the lid and fill it with water instead.
2. Drain the water and dry the tagine. Rub the interior and exterior of the lid and base with olive oil.
3. Place the tagine in a cold oven. Turn the oven on to 150° C, and set the timer for 2 hours.
4. After 2 hours, turn off the oven, and leave the tagine to cool completely in the oven. Wash the cooled tagine by hand, and coat the interior with olive oil before storing or using. Do not open the oven door as this will cause fluctuation in the temperature causing the tagine to crack
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR TAGINE DURING AND AFTER USE
1. Authentic Moroccan clay and ceramic tagines will crack if subjected to high heat. Unless otherwise directed, use a low burner setting or an oven temperature of no more than 160° C, and wait patiently for the dish to reach a simmer. Heat diffusers are recommended for cooking.
2. Tagines may also crack if subjected to rapid and fluctuating changes in temperature. Avoid this by not adding cold food or liquids to a hot tagine, and by taking care not to place a hot tagine on a cold surface. Similarly, don’t add hot liquids to a cold tagine, or place a cold tagine in a preheated oven.
3. Hand wash your tagine with very mild soap, baking soda or vinegar, and rinse well. Leave the tagine to dry thoroughly, and then lightly coat the interior of the lid and base with olive oil before storing. Do not leave it submerged in soapy water.
4. It’s a good idea to store your tagine with the lid slightly ajar so that air can circulate. Glazed ceramic tagines tend to mold, and this will help prevent that. If the interior does develop a little mold, simply wash the tagine and lightly coat it with olive oil before using.
A crack in your tagine and you start panicking. Calm your pretty and handsome little faces cause we got you covered. Unless you haven’t drop the tagine or threw it out of spite of anger (Yikes!), they can be fixed fairly easily. Here’s how
HOW TO FIX YOUR CRACKED TAGINE
Minor surface or hairline cracks may show up on the bottom and it’s normal for this to happen, even to the best tagines, and it shouldn’t affect the functioning in any way. Other deeper or major cracks would rarely happen to the best tagines unless the pot has been exposed to prolonged period of high or uneven heat or if there are no liquids in the pot and the food get very dry then the crack might occur.
1. Seal it with food grade glue and let it sit for 2 – 3 days before you use it
1. Make a paste with 2 tsp water and 1 tsp flour.
2. Wash the pot thoroughly and apply the paste on the inside and outside of the pot along the line of the crack and spread it to the surrounding area. Let the paste dry slightly and then use the pot for cooking.
3. When the pot is heated, the clay platelets come together and the paste will seal the crack.
4. Wait for the pot to completely cool down before washing it
5. You can repeat this process one more time if you still see liquids leaking from the crack
If you are looking for an authentic tagine to try your hands at the delicious recipe look no further. You can shop for the best tagines of all sizes at Maghrebi. It is something everyone should try at least once in their lifetime. See you in our next post as I dig into this exquisite tagine dish now!