Dinner Dish: Tagines During a Morocco Cooking Vacation
The only thing all tagines have in common are that they're of Berber origin and they're slow cooked in a unglazed terra cotta or clay pot of the same name.The basic ingredients in tangines are also pretty much the same -- the base is usually a meat like lamb or veal, along with fruits or vegetables -- but that's where the similarities end, which you'll discover during a Morocco cooking vacation. This "stew" dish has a number of incantations, and not just because nearly every restaurant and street vendor has their own special take on the dish throughout this North African country.
Herbs and spices play a large role in the flavor of the dish, and since Morocco cuisine has been influenced by so many cultures, spices can vary widely. Some are sweet, some are spicy, and others hail from Italian and French cuisine. Generally speaking, coriander and cinnamon are quite popular in Morocco's national dish, as is saffron and even cinnamon.
While the herbs and spices are integral parts of the the dish, they need something to flavor. Most tangines will have meat that is braised and slow cooked in a minimal amount of liquid, all thanks to the dish's top, which keeps moisture in. Some recipes, though, are vegetarian, and the meat can be substituted for vegetables like chickpeas.
Speaking of vegetables, nearly all tagines have them, whether its a meat dish or a vegetarian one. Onions and lemons are popular accoutrements, and its rare to find a tagine without an onion really.
But what won't you find in a traditional tagine? Couscous for one. During a Morocco culinary vacation, couscous belongs as a separate dish. Once the tagine is done cooking, then you're free to pour it onto top of the couscous and dive into this flavorful creation.
Hungry yet? USA Today once declared Morocco's tagines as one of the top foods worth traveling for, and considering the incredible array of flavors and dishes, it's not hard to see why.
Check out one tagine recipe here.
By Liz Hall
"Dinner dish" is a blog series, where The International Kitchen discusses recipes and the history of particular regional foods. Have a food you want to learn more about? Contact us today.
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