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The Secret to Cooking Succulent Food – The Tagine

Updated on July 6, 2011

Creating Mouth Watering Meals with the Moroccan Tagine

The tagine has been used by Moroccan mothers to maintain succulence for centuries and their cooking method isn’t exclusive to them. Tagine cooking is essentially clay pot cooking but the unique shape of a tagine helps to dramatically improve meals. The science behind the Moroccan tagine means that your meals cannot go wrong.

Moroccan food is delicious, couscous with Moroccan lamb stew has always been one of my favourite meals but I have come across times when people have ruined this dish simply by not implementing the correct device that is the Moroccan tagine.

Ultimately, tagine clay pot cooking means less dry meat failures and more succulent, tender meat meals that make the mouth water.

A Traditional Moroccan Tagine

A beautiful design!
A beautiful design!

How Does the Moroccan Tagine Work?

The science behind the Moroccan tagine really is science... Scientists use something of a similar shape called a conical flask to retain moisture and prevent evaporation. You’ve seen those flasks; you were probably made to use them back in chemistry class, and you might never have thought that the same principle could help you improve your home cooking.

Put simply, the water in your food is heated up and as it rises it becomes trapped by the funnel shaped lid of the tagine, here it has a chance to cool down and as it does it falls back down into the food.

So what’s the difference between this and just using a plain clay pot with a lid?

It is really, very simple. The shape of the lid means that the moisture returns to the food and continues to be cooked with it rather than just sitting on the underside of the lid waiting for you to lift it off and spill it everywhere.

Why a Moroccan Tagine is a Kitchen Must Have

You may be looking to create juicy meals, have your chicken breast soft and moist rather than dry and un-swallow-able, or maybe you want your roasted lamb retaining its shape while having melt in the mouth qualities. Even if you’re not too bothered about having perfectly succulent meat you might also want to consider that It’s a total pain in the neck having to use yards of foil and endless unwrapping, basting and rewrapping to keep your meats juicy in the traditional manner.

Why do we insist on continuing with these, often pointless methods when there are better ones out there?

Emile Henry and Le Creuset Tagines

Emile Henry Tagines
Emile Henry Tagines
Le Creuset Tagine
Le Creuset Tagine

Emile Henry 3.7 Quart Tagine

So Which Tagine Should You Go For?

The Best Tagines to Use will have a heavy metal base to ensure even cooking, and a longer column at the top to reduce moisture loss. There are all sorts of tagines out there. Some are traditional ceramic tagines with familiar orange and brown coloured patterns, while other more modern tagines may come with an enamel lid in a vibrant colour.

With tagine clay pot cooking, traditionally you will not necessarily remove the meal from the tagine but you will serve the meal in the tagine using it as a serving dish. Handles make the job of transferring the tagine pot around easier and so some are now made with handles.

Tagines with Excellent User Reviews

The Emile Henry Flame Top Tagine (3.7 Quart) is great because you can use it directly on the gas flame and is microwavable as well as oven and dishwasher safe. Clay can be heavy especially when your tagine is full of yummy food, and so being 30% lighter than the typical tagine clay pot makes it slightly more desirable. This particular tagine has a good reputation among its users who often recommend it over other makes and users are particularly happy with the large size making it possible to cook for more people.

Le Creuset Enamelled Cast Iron Moroccan Tagine is smaller (2 Quart) and so perfect for meals for two to four people. This tagine pot has a cast iron base making it heavier but with the huge benefit of even cooking. This tagine can also be used directly on the gas flame and is dishwasher safe. For those of you who are style conscious and require all kitchen equipment to match with the wallpaper, then this tagine is perfect as it comes in a variety of colors to choose from. Reviews for this tagine confirm its usefulness in helping to create perfectly succulent meat.


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    • Amber Vyn profile image

      Amber Vyn 

      5 years ago

      Thanks for the explanation of how the tagine works. I've always wondered why they were designed that way. Voted 'up' and 'interesting'!

    • PaisleeGal profile image

      Pat Materna 

      5 years ago from Memphis, Tennessee, USA

      Very interesting article. Learned something new about cooking.

    • FranyaBlue profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Windsor, England

      Thank you Starglade for reading and commenting. I'm glad you could learn from it.

    • Starglade profile image


      8 years ago from behind the Cheddar Curtain

      I learned something from reading this hub and want to thank you. I was familiar with the term "tagine," but only as the name of a food--not as the name of the cooking pot! I enjoy ethnic cooking of many kinds, Moroccan being among them. Some day I would love to have a tagine so I could prepare dishes in the proper manner. Thank you for this hub!


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