How to season and use a tagine.


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By Neil

You’ve got a tagine. How do you get it ready for use, and how do you cook with it? It’s easy…..

Tagine comes from the Arabic tajin meaning earthware pot and is historically a Berber dish from North Africa. It’s a very popular dish in Morocco and very tasty. There is a wide choice to pick from eg, chicken,lamb, beef and vegetable. Spices, nuts, olives and dried fruit can also be added.

A tagine is a clay cooking vessel with a round base and a witches hat shaped lid. The lid is designed to promote the return of all condensation to the bottom of the dish. We decided that it would be a good idea to buy one.

I bought one for about £4.50 from a nice old man at a lovely shop in Tafraoute.

Before you use it for the first time you must season it. This is what I did –

Fill the base up to the top with cold water and leave overnight. Turn the lid upside down, fill again with cold water and leave overnight. This process will strengthen your tagine.

The next advice I got was to fill with about 300ml of veg oil and place on coals for 2 hours. Unfortunately the base cracked as the heat was too intense. Back to the drawing board!

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I went back to the market and managed to buy another base for £2.50 from the same nice old man. He tried to explain in Berber and with gestures where I had gone wrong. I set off to try again.

We then headed to our next campsite where we ordered a tagine for our tea. It was delicious. I asked the guy there how he used his tagine. He cooked his with a small gas hob but said that you must use a type of diffuser, or as he said in french une plaque de metal, (a piece of metal).

This prevents a direct heat source from touching the base of the tagine. His advice was to go into the village and ask one of the metalwork shops to make one up. Here is the guy who made it,complete with handle.

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Whilst I was in town I bought potatoes, courgettes, tomatoes, carrots, olives, lemon and chicken to make our first tagine.

Two and half hours later, and on a low gas heat we had a lovely chicken tagine for tea. Simple.

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Wash out with mild detergent and apply some oil ready for next time. A tasty, easy tea using either a gas hob or an open fire.

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