The tall, attractive, conical cookware common to Moroccan (and other North African cultures) known as the “tagine” is similar in function to the western world’s Dutch Oven.
However, knowing how to cook with Moroccan tagines is a different skill set in some ways. This article is intended to help those who would like to begin using the tagine effectively in their kitchens.
First, let’s get into exactly what the tagine is, how it is made, and how it cooks food. Then we will delve into how to cook with Moroccan tagines.
The tagine itself is named after a style of North African dishes by the same name. Tagines, the dishes or meals prepared in the tagine, can be stews (by far the most often prepared in them), meats, vegetables, rice, couscous, just about anything, really. For a great lamb tagine recipe, click here.
Traditionally, for centuries, tagines have been made of clay, baked into an extremely hard and durable type of porcelain. You can still get the traditional, clay-based tagines today, and they are still commonly used in North Africa. In modern times, however, some manufactures have been producing tagines with equally effective cooking capabilities made of other materials, such as enameled cast-iron.
The unique conical shape of the tagine provides a moist, hot cooking enclosure for the foods being prepared. Moroccan tagines have a shallow, wide base. The cone-shaped lid fits snug and tight inside the base. During the cooking process, steam rises up from the base into the cone. In the cone, the steam condenses, forms beads of moisture, and trickles down the sides back into foods cooking in the base.
If you are familiar with the Dutch Oven, you will recognize some similarity here. The difference is that the tagine is even more efficient with respect to how much liquid is needed overall. The design and method of cooking the tagine possesses is such that it requires far less liquid than the Dutch Oven in order to cook foods very slowly until completely tender.
Okay. With this information in mind, now here is …