Morocco is a mystical country full of encounters and contrasts. It is an old country where tradition coexists with modernity, its cities are a kaleidoscope of different faces and its food is succulent. Morocco is jam-packed with culture and beautiful scenery. The people, food, environment and history are all things to be discovered when you’re visiting this marvelous country.
The Moroccan Cuisine in particular is a blend of Berber, Arab, Mediterranean and European ingredients and cooking techniques. It is known to be some of the best in the world. Moroccan food is a delicious blend of flavors and cultures, with many dishes having been passed down through generations to become quintessential Moroccan dishes. And the Moroccan tagine is probably one of the most well-known in Morocco.
So if you wonder what a tagine is, which type of tagine to buy and how to prep your tagine for cooking? Keep reading until the end and we will tell you all the secrets!!
WHAT IS MOROCCAN TAGINE?
Finding its origin in Berber cuisine, but also very widespread in traditional Maghreb cuisine. It is a kind of stewed stew that can be composed of a mixture of meat, poultry or fish, vegetables or fruit and spices and olive oil.
Moroccan Tagine is considered a famous Moroccan dish, made with meat marinated in spices and vegetables and cooked in a traditional clay pot. The whole family gathers around the table to share this meal to savour every mouthful of flavoursome and tender meat with fresh baked bread.
WHY IS THE MOROCCAN TAGINE SHAPED THAT WAY?
The bottom of the tagine is used to maintain the heat and the pointed shape of the lid has been designed to allow cooking without water, thus retaining all the flavors of the food. The steam from the food therefore condenses on the lid of the tagine dish, and then falls on the food, which is thus moistened.
This, in turn, makes the meat incredibly buttery as it bastes into the different juices. And the end result is of remarkable taste and exquisitely full of flavor.
WHICH TYPE OF MOROCCAN TAGINE TO BUY?
When buying a Moroccan tagine, you should decide whether you’re going to use it for cooking or for decoration because there is a difference between both types. Some tagine dishes withstand long and high cooking temperatures. The typical matte tagine pots or the plain glazed ones are perfect for cooking your meal.
While others, from artistic crafts, are fragile and reserved for serving only, or decoration since they come in different colors and are embellished with various motifs and patterns.
HOW TO PREP YOUR MOROCCAN TAGINE?
If your Cooking Moroccan tagine is still new, don’t use it before preparing it or else you will not like the taste of the food.
First thing first, to start preparing your tagine you have to soak it and leave it in water for at least 5 hours. After absorbing the moisture, you need to remove the excess of water and let it sit for an hour to air dry. After that, coat your Moroccan tagine from the inside and outside with some olive oil, then put it in the oven and bake it at 150 °C for about 2 hours. After cooling, you can start cooking with your Tagine pot.
BONUS RECIPE: MOROCCAN CHICKEN TAGINE
- 2 large chicken thighs, or another cut of your choice
- Pulp of ½ preserved lemon (no rind), finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon preserved butter (smen), or butter
- ¼ onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley and cilantro, mixed
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- A pinch of saffron threads
- Pepper, to taste
- ½ preserved lemon (no pulp, rind only), rinsed and sliced into two
- 10 green olives
1- In a tagine plate, combine the vegetable oil, olive oil, preserved butter, chicken thighs, chopped preserved lemon pulp, chopped onion, crushed garlic, chopped parsley and cilantro, and spices. Note that there is no salt in this recipe due to the saltiness of the preserved lemon pulp.
2- Cover the tagine and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until the chicken changes color.
3- Add 1/4 cup (60 ml) of boiling water, cover the tagine, and continue cooking for around 20 minutes or until the chicken is done. Check on the tagine from time to time and add water if necessary; there should always be enough liquid for the chicken to fully cook.
4- Once the chicken is done, add the green olives to the sauce and top the chicken with the preserved lemon rind. Cover and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
5- Serve immediately with crusty bread.
Source: Cooking with Alia