If you enjoy trying international cuisine, then invest in a tagine. A Moroccan tagine is a two part cooking vessel that traditionally is made of clay or ceramic. It has a cone shaped top. Tagines are used to cook stew like dishes.
Part of the fun is that tagine recipes can be very easy to prepare and cook. Once you stock several spices frequently used in the recipes (turmeric, ginger, cinnamon to name a few), the ingredient list can be pretty simple. The main part of the stew can include beef, lamb, chicken or fish. Fruits are usually part of the dish… prunes, dates, dried apricots. You can also prepare vegetarian dishes. Another reason why cooking with a tagine is easy… only one pot. You don’t need any other special kitchen equipment or other pots or pans.
Besides making for a unique looking piece of cookware, the cone shaped top serves a practical purpose. The lid ensures that heat condenses at the top so that the dish does not dry up even if left on the stove overtime.
When your family or friends come into the kitchen, they’ll know a tagine meal is in the works. There is a tiny hole in the lid to let out some steam and it fills the air with the wonderful smell of the spices used in tagine recipes.
Back to easy… tagines are very attractive. They can be plain or come in a variety of colors and painted patterns. As a result, remove the lid and bring the meal directly to the table as the bottom serves as an attractive serving dish.
You have the idea… so let’s get started… want to try a lamb tagine with dates, almonds and pistachios?
2-3 tbsp. olive oil and a pat of butter
2 onions-finely chopped
1-2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsps. ground cinnamon
2-2 ½ lbs. lamb stew meats (cubes)
8 oz. ready to eat pitted figs (if can’t find pitted-very easy to remove pits yourself)
1 tbsp. honey
2-3 tbsps. slivered almonds
2 tbsps. shelled pistachios
2-3 tbsps. finely chopped fresh parsley
Heat the olive oil and butter in the tagine. Stir in onions and sauté’ until light brown. Stir in turmeric, ginger and cinnamon. Toss in the lamb to coat in the onion-spice mixture. Pour in water sufficient to almost cover the lamb. Reduce heat to a low setting, cover with the lid and gently simmer for 1 ½ hours. After 1 ½ hours, add the dates and stir in the honey. Season with salt and lots of fresh ground black pepper. Cover and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the almonds and pistachios in a pie plate and roast in a 375* oven for 8-10 minutes until toasted… don’t burn.
Sprinkle the nuts and parsley over the lamb and dates and you’re ready to serve!
Couscous (easy to make) is the usual accompaniment to a tagine recipe.
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