Tajine

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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10 comments

  1. erin’s avatar

    The boy and I received a tagine from his mum for our engagement; that was about six months ago, and I’m still yet to use it. I’m kind of scared; I have high hopes for the tagine, but I worry that my inexperience and impatience will result in an under-cooked, poor-quality meal. The idea of dates with lamb and spices almost makes me giddy with excitement, though, so I really must take the damn thing out of its box and use it…

  2. santos.’s avatar

    is it possible to make a tajine for two or less? it seems like so much for so…much.

    ras al hanout. next villain in batman series?

  3. akatsukira’s avatar

    I’m very taken with your table. Is that a built-in hot plate?

  4. Anthony’s avatar

    Erin, it’s understandable in the early stage of having a tajine to have worries but you’re not getting any more experienced or any less patient, so take it out of its box and use it. They’re slow and gentle cookers if you give them time and are very tolerant of mistakes.

    Santos! The cheap cuts are usually bulk cuts but you could knock a smaller one out quite quickly if you used fresh fruit like and quicker cooking chicken or seafood. They do make cute small terrines more one person in scale. Theyd make for great little one pot meals. It freezes really well in a vacuum sealer so I usually make a large batch for quick meals later.
    Holy malevolent minarets batman.

    Akatsukira! The stainless steel centrepiece is from an old country store ice-cream refrigerator – it has three hatches. The plan is to make an integrated hibachi for it but an earthenware charcoal burner fits it the hole nicely and does the job.

  5. Anthony’s avatar

    oh the middle part is just some hardwood cut to make a cutting/serving board

  6. Zoe’s avatar

    You shameless thing, you just posted this because Aldi had tagines last week, right?

  7. Anthony’s avatar

    Pft speak for yerself pomegranate pusher, my nearest Aldi’s 3000 miles away.

  8. Chuck Waggon’s avatar

    Sir,

    I was following your instructions to the letter, hoping to surprise my lovely wife with a lovely meal, when she came home sooner than anticipated and asked me why I had the lid on my head…

  9. Francis Xavier Holden’s avatar

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

  10. Anonymous’s avatar

    great thanks, though it was really tough finding raselhanout, just found some at http://www.indianfoodandspices.co.uk

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