Here is the jewel of Moroccan/Tunisian/Algerian cuisine: A spicy, sweet, flavourful Stew of Goat, Lamb, or Game, with dried fruits and Tomatoes, cooked low and slow in a special pot that is both indigenous and unique to the region. I speak of none other than the beloved Tajine!
Let’s begin at the beginning…
‘Tajine’ is the word used to refer both to the Trademark Moroccan stew and the vessel it is cooked in.
You’ve seen a Tajine pot, I’m sure. Maybe you just didn’t know what it was called! This distinctive clay cooking vessel consists of a shallow, broad base with a unique conical lid terminating in a small hole at its apex. The lid is designed to catch steam coming off the simmering stew and condense it so as not to lose any of the amazing flavours. The resemblance to a Nuclear Power Plant cooling tower is not coincidental. Works on exactly the same principle.
Now, the recipe…
Tajine is an easy dish to put together. use cubed red meat or poultry. Lamb and Goat are traditonal. Brown the meat in a tablespoon or so of Olive Oil on medium-high hat. Add Ras el Hanout spice blend, some Harissa (Hot Pepper Paste) if you like it hot and then toss in a few chopped Dates, Chopped Figs, chopped Dried Apricots and some thickly sliced Onions. Add finely chopped or pressed Garlic to taste, canned or pre-soaked Chick Peas, A splash of Lemon Juice and a little water, to get the steam going.
Put the lid on the baking dish and place in a 325 F oven or place on simmer on the stove top until the meat is fall-apart tender and the Chick Peas are tender.
No! Really! It’s that easy!
Hint: You can also simmer a Tajine stew in a shallow braising pan or a Dutch Oven with a high lid – as long as there is a good couple of inches at least of steam space above the surface of the food.
Serve with Rice or by itself. Make it once, you’ll be a fan!
~ Maggie J.