What Are You Tagine About?

Tagine, by rdpeyton, on FlickrA 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].

Traditional spices that are used in Moroccan tagine recipes include ground cinnamon, saffron, ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika, pepper, as well as the famous spice blend ras el hanout.

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