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.