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 …
How to Cook With Moroccan Tagines-
By far the most popular and well-known dishes to make in a tagine are the incredible stews they can produce. And much like the Dutch Oven or the Crockpot (slow cooker), you simply load all the ingredients in, season to taste, place the cooker over low flame, and wait. After enough time passes, your stew is ready to eat. Just remember, with a tagine, you will use much less liquid than you would if you are used to the Dutch Oven or Crockpot. With time and experience you will get the hang of it. For your first few times using a tagine, just put in about half the amount of water you normally would, and check on the dish as it cooks periodically.
Be mindful, stews are not all you can learn how to cook with Moroccan tagines. Couscous, rice, and beans are simply magnificent cooked in a tagine. Meat and veggies together, seafoods with rice and/or veggies. Meats with veggies and fruits – once you get a basic understanding of how to cook with Moroccan tagines, the possibilities are unlimited.
When your dish is all succulent and tender, ready to eat? The base of a tagine is a beautiful serving bowl. Just place it on the table and allow your guests to ladle out portions for themselves. You can also use candle warmers on the table, and keep your meal nice and hot for a long, relaxed dining experience. Keep the lid on, removing it only to scoop out portions of food. The food will stay hot, moist and fresh for as long as you wish.
Is the tagine for you? If you already have a Dutch Oven and/or a Crockpot, would you need a tagine? That’s a question that only you can answer, of course. For me, as a lover of ethnic foods from cultures around the world, I decided I just had to have at least one. And the North African dishes I’ve made in my tagine have been utterly fabulous.
Now that you have some ideas on how to cook with Moroccan tagines, if you do not yet own one and would like to have one (or more) in your kitchen, you can find them on our online store – just click here.
Before you leave, may I ask, “Do you already own a tagine? And if so, what do you like to cook with it, and what has your experience been?” Please leave a comment, share your experience, or comment on any aspect of this “how to cook with Moroccan tagines” subject, okay?
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22 thoughts on “How to Cook with Moroccan Tagines”
Ok I’m sold! Gotta get one, thanks for the link to Amazon, pretty sure they don’t sell tagines at my local supermarkets, lol.
You are welcome, Marcus – enjoy cooking with your new tagine!
Ok, I’m SOLD!! LOL, seriously, I just gotta get one of those tagines. Thanks for the link to right Amazon page, I’ve never seen any tagines sold here in this little town of Oklahoma.
Hey Sylvia, that wasn’t a very hard sell! 😉 Teehee – glad you want to get a tagine and try cooking with one, they really are fun to create unique dishes with.
Very informative article. I get it how the shape and composition make for the perfect conditions for these kinds of dishes. I’m sold – gotta get me a tagine now, LOL.
Margo, go for it. I got me a tagine a couple years ago, and I just love cooking with it.
Wow! Some of those tagines to buy look stunning – great to bring straight to the table I guess. After reading your post, I now understand why they are the shape that they are and how they work. Might just have to get myself one 🙂 I’ve adapted tagine recipes for my slow cooker but would definitely like to try the real thing.
Kathy, I hope you do try the tagine method. It is truly exceptional!
I love cooking at home and finding new methods of cooking. I have never heard of a Moroccan Tangine before reading your article, but I would love to check it out. It was great to learn how the tangine cooks food, as well as the types of dishes you can make with the tangine.
I often use my crockpot to cook stews, soups, and beans, but it sounds like the tangine provides a new way of cooking some of the same foods I usually eat, as well as new ethnic foods I’ve yet to try.
Thank you for sharing! I look forward to trying some new recipes.
Jen, thank you for the visit and comment. I hope you do try cooking with a tagine, it is a wonderful thing to have in the kitchen that opens up new ways to prepare some very delicious ethnic foods.
We have been thinking about buying a tangine as we cook a number of North African dishes using Harisa (when we want it picante) and Ras el Hanout spice blend for delicious stews. Your review convinced me that a tangine needs to be part of our cookware. Do you prefer the traditional clay or the modern enameled cast iron construction?
Hi Robert, glad to meet another African foods buff. Me, I prefer the traditional clay tagine, but then I’m kind of an “authentic” nut when it comes to preparing ethnic foods. I know people who have the enameled cast iron tagines, and they swear by them as just great to cook with.
This seems like a great thing to use in my kitchen. I will definitely have to check this out. I love slow cookers that the fact that you said that made me fall in love with it even more! Great info about this. I have actually heard from my friends using this pot and the way you describe is amazing as well.
Liz thanks for the comment, and I love your zeal for cooking. Another great thing about tagines is they are very affordable. Anywhere from $30 to $70, depending on the size you want.
I don’t have one yet, but after reading this, I sure as heck am gonna get me one!
Marcus, for sure, go for it and get one!
OK, that does it. I just GOTTA get me a Moroccan tagine! LOL, but seriously, I don want to try this out. Hubby dear loves stews, and African ethnic foods, so … seems like a logical move, right, Old Silly? 😉
Tamika, your logic is unquestionably cogent! lol
Very interesting indeed. I followed your link to see the prices, and tagines are very affordable, too. I might just have to give one a go, thanks much.
Zane, definitely give one a go … they are elegantly simple to use and the meals you can make in them are outstanding.
Yes I DO have a tagine, and I just love it! It does everything my crockpot can do, but the tenderness and blending of flavors in the stews it makes is so much better.
Appreciated this post, because I’ve not yet tried rice, beans, and couscous in my tagine. Thanks for the info!
Barb, thanks for sharing your feedback on your tagine. And yes, believe me, rice, couscous, and beans come out of a tagine so tender and delicious!