What is a tajine ?
The tajine—typically spelled tagine—is the traditional clay cooking pot used by North African cooks to conjure up deliciously spiced, slow-cooked stews and braises. It can be used to make both tender meat dishes and aromatic vegetable concoctions. Each traditional clay and trendy tajines, made from a variety of supplies, share the identical design—a shallow base with a tall, curved, cone-shaped lid.
Choosing a tajine
Understand the design. All tajines have a distinctive shape–a shallow bottom with raised sides and a curved, cone-shaped high that condenses cooking vapors, keeping the dish moist as it slowly cooks. Some tajines have an opening on the narrow high of the cone, others don’t–the hole helps steam escape in tajines with a good-fitting lid.
Consider clay. Traditional cooking tajines are made from clay, sometimes simply glazed, while others are decorated with colorful Moroccan-fashion motifs. The clay gives dishes an earthy flavor. There are also ornamental ceramic vessels which can be designed merely for use to present dishes, not to cook them. Be sure your tajine is supposed for the oven in case you plan to cook with it.
Opt for convenience. Modern tajines are made from cast iron, porcelain-covered forged iron and stainless steel. They typically cost as much as three or 4 instances more than a traditional clay tajine; nonetheless, they’re easier to use since they’ll move from stoveprime to oven and take higher heat when browning ingredients on the stovetop.
If traditional is your alternative, you need to treatment your clay tajine by soaking it in water for no less than 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 within the bottom of the tajine, the cover put in place and the tajine carried careabsolutely to a pre-heated oven for a protracted, slow cooking process. Typically, a small amount of olive oil is poured into the base of the tajine, then ingredients are layered with the more robust and sturdier ingredients getting into 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 a lot like a traditional stew recipe. Different ingredients are then layered on high, 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 can be switchred to a low oven for a protracted braise.
Endurance is essential for tajine cooking. The whole level of the tajine’s design is to seize aromatic condensation, permitting the complex, spiced layers to merge right into a scrumptious concoction. Do not attempt to pace the process by elevating the heat, particularly if you are using a clay tajine, which can crack if the temperature is just too high.
Serve your tajine dish with a flourish, leaving the cone-shaped lid in place until you place it on the table in front of your guests. Lifting the cone will release a cloud of aroma from the wonderful mix of spices and unique ingredients like preserved lemon and contemporary olives.
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