The tagine, or tajine, is a cooking dish which originates from Africa and is the tool with which many cook their daily meals. The types of tagging vary but they are usually made from clay and are made up of two parts, at the base is a clay plate, of varying sizes, with a pyramid shaped lid which sits on the top. The reason a tagging works so well to cook food is that the design ensures that the steam from the cooking process, re-enters the dish and creates a moist and succulent batch of ingredients.
Evidence of people using tagines throughout Africa have been found as far back as the 9th century and there have been many discoveries throughout the years of different types of pottery which were used to make the cooking pots, all identical in their plate and cone-like design. The beauty of these cooking pots is that you can make a wide number of dishes and I love experimenting with different types of meals. Let’s take a look at how you can get the most out of your tagine.
The Moroccan-style tagines are almost always slow-cooked stews of the savory variety, they use a wide mixture of ingredients from sliced meats, vegetables, fruits and nuts. The key to creating a beautiful Moroccan dish is to get the herbs and spices just right and there is a really wide variety of these available to you in order to create that perfect Moroccan flavor. Here you can expect to use any combination of spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger and paprika as well as African favorite, saffron. Here are some of the types of dishes which you can expect to find with a Moroccan tagine.
- Slow cooked lamb with fruits
- Chicken with vegetables
- Almond tagine
- Lamb and mango
- Lamb with prunes and almonds
- Slow cooked beef in herby gravy
The Tunisian tagging is completely different to the type that you will find in Morocco and it is a dish which is probably closer to an Italian fritatta. This complicated blend of ingredients is cooked in similar pots to the meals in Morocco but the outcome is instead, a thick slab of beautiful ingredients, packed full of flavors. Using a basic ragout recipe, the liquid is thickened using the likes of chick peas, potatoes, cannellini beans or bread. Tender meat is then flavored with a blend of herbs and spices before it is added to the stew with some eggs and cheese. The whole mix is then laid out on to the cooking plate and usually heated over an open fire or hot coals. Once the tagine is ready it is taken out and served in squares, much like a quiche would be. The dish is served with nothing other than a slice of lemon, absolutely beautiful.
Have you tried cooking with a tagine before? How did it work out for you? Let us know how you got on in the comments section below.
A lot of my best travel buddies have chosen the vegan lifestyle and I was talking to one of them recently about our experiences across the world in terms of which countries are the most accommodating for vegans. There are many cities which I have visited which really promote veganism and have wide options for restaurants and cafes, today however I want to take a look at which countries are the best to visit for vegans, which aren’t actively trying to remove meat from the menu, because it they already have.
India has one of the largest populations of vegetarians on the planet and this in turn lends itself to a an easy-to-find vegan lifestyle. Animals are sacred in the religions throughout India and as such, meat features very rarely on the menu, the only watch outs therefore for vegans are the uses of cheese, butter and cream in the cooking process. Thankfully, such is the beauty of the curry, almost all of these are either vegan by design, or can easily be turned into vegan meals. The approach to India food is more about the flavor of the ingredients and the use of vegetables and potatoes is enhanced with a wonderful blend of herbs and spices. The sheer amount of grains, pulses, lentils, cereals, beans and vegetables gives a vegan more than enough options to get live a tasty and fulfilling lifestyle here.
Taipei has really cemented itself as a vegan mecca in recent years and the culture here just continues to grow year on year. Speaking to all of my vegan buddies, they tell me that this is the place which they would happily keep going back to in order to enjoy not only a beautiful island, but also a wide range of outstanding vegan food. The food choices here range from the locally cooked, and mightily delicious vegan street food, right the way up to high-end restaurants who are constantly striving to put new and exciting vegan dishes on the menu, in fact, Taipei offers over 6,000 vegetarian and vegan establishments! Because of the abundance of ingredients in Taipei, vegans can also count on some pretty cheap options, vegan food on a budget is very easily done here, perfect for the conscious traveler.
Throughout my travels around northern Africa, I found so many countries which offer plentiful options for vegan travelers and Morocco is most definitely a favorite. Even raw food vegans can find a wide range of options here and whilst there is plenty of meat about, the meals do not depend on it by any stretch of the imagination. Fruits and nuts are regularly used in cooking, so too is a vast range of vegetables as well as beans and lentils being heavily depended upon. The key to great Moroccan food is often plenty of veg, rice and most importantly, a tasty blend of local spices. If you are looking for a great vegan lifestyle then Morocco is a great place to consider.