Moroccan food has distinctive flavors. The blend of heady spices with meat, fish, or poultry, plus the use of dried fruit and nuts or preserved lemons, leaves most of us with our mouths watering and racing to the table.
But how do you use your beautiful tagine pot? We’re going to look at that right here so that you can make the most of this gorgeous and versatile piece of cookware.
If you have a cast-iron tagine pot, see here, the can skip a bunch of work and start cooking right away.
We’ve included instructions for prepping a clay or earthenware tagine pot – which is a little bit more complicated, but totally doable.
Let’s get started!
Tips for using a tagine pot
1. Cure Your Tagine
Cast-iron tagine pot
You can start to use your tagine pot immediately (see below).
Clay tagine pot
If your tagine pot is made of clay, you’ll need to avoid any extreme changes in temperature.
Before making your recipe, you’ll need to season your pot to seal the clay. First, soak it in water for 2 hours. Then dry it thoroughly and spread some olive oil both inside and out. Include the lid.
In a cold oven, put the entire tagine pot inside. Turn the oven on to 300 °F (or 140 °C), and allow your tagine pot bake for 2 hours. Then turn the oven off. Let the oven cool with your tagine pot still inside.
Once your pot is completely cold, wash it, then brush it again with olive oil. Your pot is now ready to use in your recipe.
2. Cook your tagine slowly
To prepare your tagine, you want to do these 7 steps:
1. Put a good amount of oil or fat into the bottom of your tagine.
2. Add vegetables such as carrots or onions. Having veggies and fat on the bottom will ensure that your meat or fish doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pot while the tagine cooks.
3. Put the meat or fish in the center of your vegetables, then add spices. Here are some spices that are often used in Moroccan cuisine.
4. Add a bit of water or broth, according to your recipe.
5. If your tagine pot is made of clay, you’ll need to use a heat diffuser. Put the diffuser between the bottom of the pot and the stove. Starting with a cold burner, put your tagine on low heat.
6. If your tagine pot is cast iron, no need for a heat diffuser. Turn your stove on to low heat.
7. Now cook your tagine, by allowing it to simmer slowly (typically for about 2 hours, checking the level of liquid and adding a bit more if necessary).
3. Serve your tagine, with all the extras
Serve your tagine with preserved lemons, olives, fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, or pomegranate seeds.
Couscous, buckwheat, quinoa, or rice are all delicious with tagines.
A tagine is usually a meal in itself, but if you do want to serve other foods on the side, you could try any of these:
- Bakoula (sautéed collard greens)
- Taktouka (roasted peppers and tomatoes)
- Potato salad
- Zaalouk (eggplants and tomatoes)
- Carrot salad (hot)
- Beetroot salad (cold)
- Chickpea salad (cold)
- Moroccan salad (tomatoes, peppers, onions, served cold)
Caring for your tagine
Once you have enjoyed your tagine, it’s essential to know how to care for your tagine pot.
Tagines should always be washed by hand, using mild soap, or a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. Harsh detergents could soak through into the clay, and you don’t want that.
If your tagine is made of clay, you’ll want to rub it again with olive oil once it’s clean and dry. Store it with the lid left slightly ajar to enable the clay to breathe.
I hope you enjoy these tips and tricks for cooking Moroccan food!