April 2009

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yeah it's blurry

You can stop blurry photos like the above with a tripod, which is a three-legged thing. It’s interesting to note that there are few naturally occurring three-legged things.*

Tajines, and stop me if you’ve heard this before, refer to both the lidded slow cooking dish and the slow-cooked braise that’s cooked in it. English is reluctant to accept such ambiguity and if you’ve ever almost eaten a toaster, you’ll know why.

There are more than a few recipes for a tajine but I really like adding dried, or fresh, fruit such as chopped apricots, figs, sultanas and dates. I also like using lamb necks but shanks and diced mutton also works well. They all just melt together; you can’t identify the apricots and if you cook it long enough, you’ll just have to fish out a few bones.

It’s not dissimilar to a curry. The basic process is sautee the onions in olive oil /stir/ add the spices /stir/ add the meat and seal, then whatever fruit and veg you’re using /stir/ then the stock /stir/ and cook very slowly for a few hours with the lid on.

For spices I usually use a couple of tablespoons of ras al hanout and add a few strands saffron with the stock; meat – as mentioned; fruit – ditto; vegetables – usually diced sweet potato and then a tin of chopped tomatoes and soaked chickpeas but yes they’re pulses; enough stock – not so much to cover as to keep it all moist when lidded.

The spices are really only so much riffage on cumin and if you grind it fresh, you’ll not go wrong. Cinnamon quill? Why not.

You can add some chopped coriander at the end to lift it as well as some chopped and roasted almonds.

Another technique is to marinate the meat overnight in a combination of the spices, olive oil, a finely grated onion, and a bunch of chopped coriander and then add the lot to the pan. Seal the meat and then move to the adding the fruit and vegetables stage.

The complete dinner was home made olives, kofta and kangaroo kebabs cooked over charcoal, lots of lebanese bread, hommous, yoghurt, and the tajine with mograbieh and a beetroot salad. Tasty cheese platter and delicious homemade apple pie made an appearance. Myatt’s Field do a very nice tempranillo and eating the meal took the good part of five hours. Hot topics were iPods and children.

*I’ll acknowledge that ants have two sets of three legs.

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