DISHES STRAIGHT FROM 1001 NIGHTS
Thanks to its exquisite taste, its exceptional nutritional values and the conviviality it evokes, the authentic Moroccan tajines have long held a special place in the world of gastronomy as a worthy representative of North African cuisine. Its secret: delicate dishes and aromatic aromas. Whether savory, spicy or sweet, stews or desserts, they are prepared in a tajine in a particularly gentle manner that result in extremely tasty and healthy dishes.
Traditionally, meat, vegetables, and a variety of exotic spices such as turmeric, cardamon, cumin, coriander, saffron, garlic, ginger, and olive oil are placed in the pot, the lid is placed firmly, and then slowly cooked over a simmering charcoal fire to be served with couscous or a tabbouleh salad. In order to make optimal use of the heat development, meat and vegetables with a longer cooking time are placed at the bottom and in the middle of the pot, where the heat is greatest.
THE WORD TAJINE OR TAGINE REFERS TO BOTH, THE TWO-PIECE CONICALLY SHAPED CASSEROLE AND THE DISH.
THE BOTTOM OF THE POTS IS WIDE AND FLAT AND THE TOP IS HIGH AND RIBBED. AS THE FOOD COOKS, STEAM RISES UP THE CONE, CONDENSES, AND THEN DRIPS BACK DOWN THE SIDES INTO THE BOWL.
This allows the food to cook evenly while keeping the flavors locked in. The history of the compact cooking vessel, which is still used today in North African countries such as Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, dates back to the time of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, ruler of the Islamic Empire in the 8th century. Some sources go back even further to the Roman Empire, as the Romans also used portable ovens similar to ones today on their long journeys.
Others associate the distribution with the Moroccan nomads, the Berbers, since this cookware was always carried with them on their travels. The tajine is even mentioned in the famous masterpiece “The Thousand and One Nights”, but whatever its origin, Moroccan influences over the centuries have made tajines truly unique.
The article was first published in Issue 21