What’s a Moroccan Tajine Anyway?

The tajine is a traditional Moroccan dish that is often the first food travelers encounter when visiting the country. It is a type of slow-cooked stew that is prepared in a ceramic or clay pot called a tajine. However, there is some confusion about the definition of the word tajine, as it can also refer to the pot in which the dish is cooked. After couscous, the tajine is a popular and well-known dish in Morocco.

Tajine – the Cooking Vessel

The tajine pot is a simple, clay cooking vessel that has been used for centuries in various cultures around the world. Its origins can be traced back to the Neolithic period, and over time, the techniques and materials used to create tajines and other clay pots have been refined. In Morocco, there are two types of tajines: glazed and unglazed. Hand-painted tajines, which are not meant for cooking but can be used for serving, are also available for sale. The tajine pot is a versatile and enduring cooking tool that has remained largely unchanged throughout the ages.

How to Make a Tajine!

A common misconception about tajines is that there is only one type of the dish. In reality, there are many different variations of tajine, as it is more accurately defined as a cooking method rather than a specific dish. Tajine can be used to prepare a wide range of dishes, including stews, braises, and other slow-cooked meals.

There are 4 “must have” components to make a tajine.

The tajine pot
Vegetables, fruit, and/or meat

Tajines are a type of slow-cooked dish that are known for their complexity of flavor and versatility. The simplest tajines are made with vegetables, which are layered in a cone shape in the tajine pot and cooked over a low heat source, such as charcoal or a gas flame. Tomatoes and spices are often added for flavor, and a small amount of water is needed to create steam and prevent burning. The lid of the tajine pot is usually kept closed during cooking to maintain the heat and pressure inside, although the cook may occasionally lift the lid to check the progress of the food.

There are many different types of tajines that can be prepared, including chicken tajine with preserved lemon and olives, beef or lamb tajine with prunes and fried almonds, vegetable tajine with in-season produce, fish tajine with peppers and tomatoes, and meatball tajine with tomato sauce and poached eggs. Specialties such as lamb with peas and artichokes or beef with eggplants may also be available seasonally. If you have the opportunity to try a unique tajine in a home or restaurant, it is definitely worth trying, as you may not have the chance to taste it again during your visit.

Tajine – the cooking vessel – is a very simple pot that has been used for centuries.

It is common for chefs and restaurants outside of Morocco to serve tajine with couscous on the side or underneath the tajine. However, in Morocco, tajine and couscous are considered two separate meals that are cooked and eaten differently. Tajine is typically eaten using pieces of fresh flatbread to scoop up the dish, and it is customary to eat in the area directly in front of you when sharing a dish with others. If you have an allergy to gluten or prefer not to eat carbs, it is not uncommon for forks to be unavailable, but you can feel free to ask for one if needed.



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