A Tagine is a Berber [North African] dish that shares its name with the special earthenware pot in which it is traditionally cooked: a pot whose lid looks like a miniature nuclear cooling tower [see photo, right].
While simmering, the cone-shaped tagine lid does not get hot at the top, and can be lifted off without the aid of a hot mitt, so you can easily fuss with the dish as it cooks.
You can also cook a tagine in any heavy pan with a lid. And you should cook a tagine, because they are exotic and delicious, and surprisingly easy to make.
Tagines [also sometimes spelled tajines] in Moroccan cuisine are slow-cooked stews. Inexpensive cuts of meat, like the neck, shoulder or shank of a lamb, are braised at low temperatures, resulting in tender meat with aromatic vegetables and sauce. Moroccan tagines combine meat [usually lamb or chicken] with a medley of ingredients or seasonings, often including olives, fruits and nuts.
[We also have a recipe for a meatless tagine here at this link].
On the other hand, in nearby Tunisia, the tagine starts with a stew, like its more well-known Moroccan cousin, then is thickened [with white beans, chick peas, potatoes or breadcrumbs], spiced, and baked with a combination of cheese and beaten eggs. The result is similar to an Italian frittata: more casserole-like and served in slices.
Tunisian tagines are spiced with a combination of rosebuds and cinnamon called baharat, or with coriander and caraway seeds [also known as tabil – see this Leg of Lamb recipe for a tabil blend recipe].
You can find an additional tagine recipe at this link.
Photo credit: “Tagine, Preserved Lemons, Harissa” by rdpeyton on Flickr