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How to Use a Tagine

Updated on May 19, 2014
Colourful tagines in Tunisia
Colourful tagines in Tunisia | Source

What is a Tagine?

A tagine is a North African cooking dish, with a shallow bottom and a tall, cone-shaped lid. It's a unique piece of cookware that allows you to do some really special, interesting things with food once you understand how it works.

In this article, we'll cover:

How To Use Your Tagine For the First Time

Correctly seasoning your tagine is an important first step in making it easy to cook in and ensuring it lasts for as long as possible. Seasoning isn't difficult at all, and once it's done you'll never have to do it again, but it is an essential step in using your tagine for the first time.

  • Firstly, you'll want to soak your tagine - overnight is ideal, but for at least a couple of hours if you're pressed for time. This is an especially important step if your tagine is unglazed, since it prevents it from drying out and cracking.
  • Once you're done soaking, dry your tagine off and use a good-quality, edible oil (olive oil is a good choice) and your clean fingers to rub all over it. Don't forget to do the bottom! This part is especially in need of attention, since it will be in direct contact with the heat of the stove.
  • Set the oven to about 150C/300F and place the tagine inside. Leave for about 2 hours, then turn the oven off and leave the tagine inside to cool slowly. If it cools too quickly, there is a risk of cracking, and that's the last thing you want.
  • Rub it with oil again before you store or cook with it - and every time you store it and before you cook with it from now on!

Follow all of these steps and your tagine will perform well and last you for many years to come. You might even be handing it down to your children!

Easy Tagine Recipes - For Your First Few Times!

Tagine cooking is a technique not exactly like any other. While you could start with something fancy and complicated, it's probably better to try something easy to start - it'll still be delicious and you'll have a chance to get accustomed to how your tagine works and what you can expect it to do to food. Keep reading for some exciting, delicious recipes that anyone can master!

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Easy Chicken Tagine

This chicken tagine recipe is about as easy as it gets! It's all done on the stovetop and should take you about 45 minutes all up.

The mild flavours are perfect for anyone who's worried about too much spice, and served with a little cous cous (or rice, if you haven't got any to hand) it should easily feed the family as a weeknight meal.

Source

Easy, Authentic Moroccan Lamb Tagine Recipe

Morrocan Lamb is the classic tagine recipe that you'd be missing out not to try. It's spicy and sweet and unusual, but between flavourful, melt-in-your-mouth lamb and the interesting addition of fruits and nuts, this is the recipe that will make you glad you invested in a tagine.

Best of all, it's a lot easier than it looks!

How to Shop for a Tagine

There are a couple of important things to remember when you're out looking for a tagine that'll help you buy one you'll actually use and won't have to replace.

  • Buy a tagine that's big enough to cook for as many people as you normally cook for. Cooking for one? A small tagine will be fine. Got a family of six? You're going to need a big one. Remember that the base of the tagine is the part you're cooking in, not the lid.
  • Try to buy a tagine that's both stovetop and oven safe. Some recipes call for one or the other, and some call for both. You'll get the most use out of one that can be used both ways.
  • Don't be afraid to invest in a good pot. A quality tagine will last you a lifetime (and you'll love using it!) so spending a little more now will save you in the long run. The older a tagine gets, the more delicious your cooking becomes!

Have You Ever Used a Tagine?

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Getting More Adventurous With Your Tagine

We've touched on the basics - but there's so much more you can do with a tagine when you start to get confident with it!

One of my personal favourite things about tagines is that they're great for dishes that need to be cooked slowly. Stews and curries come up much better if they're allowed to simmer or bake a while, and because of the conical shape of the tagine lid, moisture is retained and drips back down into the dish, keeping it juicy and tender without having to add any more liquid.

If you're feeling really confident, tagines can be left on the stove or in the oven all day - even while you're out of the house! The low heat you use to cook with a tagine is pretty safe, and the heavy lid stops things from boiling over and spilling onto the stove.

Even if you're not quite ready to leave it completely unattended, you can start off a dish in the morning and work or play around the house all day and have dinner waiting for you when you're ready for it. It's also the ideal, low-maintenance sort of thing to start off yourself and then leave just to be watched by someone else if you're going out and they're not.

The benefit of this is that you can make a meal that would normally take hours of careful preparation with minimal work, as long as you do it ahead of time. Tagines can be even more versatile than slow cookers in this regard because their shape keeps food even more moist.

Things to Try in Your Tagine

  • Cook a whole chicken on a bed of lemon slices for about 8 hours on a low heat. Sear the chicken first in the pot on the stovetop, and then let it bake slowly in the oven. The result will be a tender, melt-in-your-mouth bird that'll really impress your family or guests.
  • Make a stew using your favourite recipe. You can either slow it down and make it an all-day affair by baking it in the oven, or speed it up on the stovetop and get the same effect with perhaps an hour's worth of cooking. Up to you!
  • What about making breakfast in your tagine? Try this tagine omelet recipe - or try adding other things to make your own unique dish!
  • Go vegetarian and try roasting vegetables in your tagine. The result will be sweeter, more flavourful veggies that'll have everyone coming back for seconds.

What do You Use Your Tagine For?

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