A tagine, the conical shaped cooking vessel, is traditionally made out of clay and was first used by North African nomads. The tagine’s conical top allows moisture escaping from the ingredients to condense on the lid and fall back onto the dish, resulting in fork-tender meat and vegetables using a minimum of liquid. Think of a slow cooker or Dutch oven. The food inside the tagine is meant to be served straight from it so don’t be shy, place it on the table and dig in! My first discovery eating from this exotic-looking dish was 10 years ago. It was strange for me to see dried fruit such as dates, lemons and apricots mixed in with potatoes, chicken and other veggies but so darn delicious with spices such as cinnamon, smoked paprika, cumin etc. I couldn’t get the flavors out of my mind and since then have dabbled with mixing meat or poultry with a bit of dried fruit.
Two weeks ago I passed by a cooking shop and there, in the window, was a brilliant red tagine and they were on sale! I have been wanting one for a long time. You can use a tagine on a stove top or in the oven. When looking to buy, the pretty colored ones are not suitable for cooking but can be used to display the food. Personally, I’d stick with the plain old clay ones and not have the hassle of removing the food. It’s recommended to season the tagine for first use by rubbing inside the base and lid with olive oil then place in a cool oven. Set temperature to 300f (150c) and leave for 2 hours. Looking for more recipes to try in your new tagine? Click here, they’ll make your tummy growl!
- 3 lbs. boneless lamb shoulder, fat removed and cut into 1.5-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1½ cups chicken stock
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- pinch of saffron threads
- ½ cup dried apricots
- ½ cup pitted dates, sliced
- ¼ cup flaked almonds, toasted
- ⅓ cup fresh coriander, chopped
- cooked couscous, to serve
- Combine paprika, cumin, ginger, ground coriander and pepper in a glass or ceramic dish. Season with pepper. Add lamb and toss to coat. Cover and place in the fridge overnight to marinate.
- Preheat oven to 350f (180c). Transfer lamb mixture into a 10 cup oven proof dish (tagine). Stir in the stock, tomato, onion, garlic, honey, cinnamon, saffron, apricots and dates. Bake, covered, for 2½ hours or until the lamb is tender. Sprinkle stew with coriander and toasted almonds. Serve with couscous.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: When mixing the spices into the meat, make sure every piece is coated. To make the couscous, place equal amounts of couscous and boiling water in a bowl with a tablespoon of butter. Cover and set aside for 5 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Use a fork to separate the grains and season to taste. Enjoy!