What is a tajine ?
The tajine—sometimes spelled tagine—is the traditional clay cooking pot used by North African cooks to conjure up deliciously spiced, gradual-cooked stews and braises. It may be used to make each tender meat dishes and fragrant vegetable concoctions. Both traditional clay and modern tajines, made from a wide range of supplies, share the identical design—a shallow base with a tall, curved, cone-formed lid.
Deciding on a tajine
Understand the design. All tajines have a distinctive form–a shallow bottom with raised sides and a curved, cone-shaped top that condenses cooking vapors, keeping the dish moist as it slowly cooks. Some tajines have an opening at the slender high of the cone, others don’t–the hole helps steam escape in tajines with a tight-fitting lid.
Consider clay. Traditional cooking tajines are made from clay, typically simply glazed, while others are decorated with colorful Moroccan-type motifs. The clay gives dishes an earthy flavor. There are also ornamental ceramic vessels which are designed merely to be used to current dishes, to not cook them. Make certain your tajine is supposed for the oven in case you plan to cook with it.
Go for convenience. Modern tajines are made from cast iron, porcelain-covered cast iron and stainless steel. They often price up to three or four instances more than a traditional clay tajine; nonetheless, they’re simpler to use since they’ll move from stovetop to oven and take higher heat when browning ingredients on the stovetop.
If traditional is your selection, you will need to remedy your clay tajine by soaking it in water for at the least an hour, then rubbing a small quantity of olive oil over the interior. The tajine is then placed in a cold oven which is then set for 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours. Some cooks use a heat diffuser with their clay tajine when cooking on the stovetop.
Cooking in a tajine
Some tajine recipes call for ingredients to be layered in the bottom of the tajine, the cover put in place and the tajine carried caretotally to a pre-heated oven for a protracted, sluggish cooking process. Typically, a small amount of olive oil is poured into the base of the tajine, then ingredients are layered with the more sturdy and sturdier ingredients getting in first. Spices are then sprinkled over the ingredients, plus olives or preserved lemon, very common ingredients in North African cooking.
Other recipes begin on the stovetop, caramelizing meat or hearty vegetables like carrots much like a traditional stew recipe. Different ingredients are then layered on top, spices added, plus a small amount of liquid to assist create the sauce. Cooking continues on a low heat on the stoveprime, or the dish may be switchred to a low oven for an extended braise.
Patience is essential for tajine cooking. The entire point of the tajine’s design is to seize aromatic condensation, permitting the complex, spiced layers to merge right into a delicious concoction. Don’t attempt to speed the process by raising the heat, especially if you’re utilizing a clay tajine, which can crack if the temperature is too high.
Serve your tajine dish with a flourish, leaving the cone-shaped lid in place till you place it on the table in entrance of your guests. Lifting the cone will launch a cloud of aroma from the wonderful mix of spices and distinctive ingredients like preserved lemon and fresh olives.
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