The tagine pot, a symbol of Moroccan food and culture. On top of its beautifully hand-painted designs, the tagine pot does a great job in trapping aromas and flavors in stews. These yummy stews, made of chicken, beef or fish, are also referred to as tagines. So, in simple terms, the tagine can either be the pot or the dish.
The tagine has been used as a portable oven for years in North Africa. Berbers traveling in the desert still use the tagine today to cook their dishes. They are usually placed on a low open fire with charcoal.
While cooking, the tagine traps the steam and allows it to rise up and come back down to the food. As a result, this creates more flavorful and moist dishes. It also makes the meat more tender. And depending on the tagine, some believe it gives the stews a more “earthy” flavor. This is because the tagine pot is an earthenware pot.
Tagines that give more of the “earthy” flavor are the ones that are unglazed. The glazed tagine pots won’t really allow the food to absorb the pot’s elements. So if you want this flavor, ask for an unglazed pot.
Tagine pots can be used to serve food as well as cook food. However, there are tagines that are strictly intended for decor and serving food but not to cook with. If it’s just for decor, it may not be able to withstand the heat and crack easily. Make sure to ask whether it can be used for cooking before buying.
But still keep in mind, that any tagine can crack depending on how you use it. To prevent a tagine from cracking, you can place it on a heat diffuser with low fire instead of placing it directly on top of the fire. After you finish with it, do not expose the pot to a cold surface as it can crack as well. Instead place on a cloth or a wooden surface.
And last but not least, before any use of a tagine pot, make sure to season it. Seasoning a tagine pot or any clay cookware, will strengthen it for use. Also, if the pot is unglazed, it will remove the strong clay taste it may leave on your food.
Seasoning the tagine pot:
1. Soak top and base in water for two or more hours. You can use a large sink or bucket. But the pot must be immersed in water.
2. Take out of the water and dry. If the tagine is unglazed, rub a little and coat with olive oil.
3. Place tagine in a turned off oven. Then turn the oven on to 300° F. Leave for two hours.
4. When the time is up, let the tagine pot cool inside the oven.
5. Wash the tagine again and coat with olive oil a second time.
Tips for your tagine pot:
-Do not expose the tagine to sudden changes in temperature. Allow the tagine to cool off before exposing to cold temperatures.
-Gradually heat the tagine when cooking. Use a heat diffuser and cook on low fire.
-Hand wash your tagine with mild soap. Let it dry and then always coat with olive oil before putting away or using.
-Leave tagine slightly open so mold won’t build inside.