In Morocco, it would be impossible – and foolish –not to try tagine cooking which is served, in one variation or another, in nearly every restaurant. It’s a slow-cooked stew served in a piping hot clay cone-shaped dish with an exceptionally delicious combinations of meat, vegetables, fruits and nuts.
When visiting Morocco, I sampled as many variations of tagine cooking as I could: chicken with apricots or lemon preserves and olives, or lamb served with dates. But, it was the slow-cooked beef with prunes that I most enjoyed – the beef so tender that it melted in my mouth, and the prunes were downright delicious. All of the dishes also included nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, pine nuts or pistachios, and are typically served with potatoes, couscous or a side of fresh bread.
The spices complete these dishes. Tagines are traditionally cooked with a variety of flavours commonly found in Morocco’s home-cooking, including saffron, ginger, cumin and turmeric. Inspired by histories of Arab, Spanish, French and African culture, this blend of seasoning with meat, preserved fruits and nuts is the perfect combination of sweet and sour flavours.
Tagine cooking was first introduced to Morocco by the Berbers, an indigenous community to North Africa, who slow cooked meat in tagines over charcoals — a method you can still see many homes or street vendors using, although in modern days, tagines have been made to withstand an oven or stove. The tagine lid is cone shaped, allowing for the juices and condensation to flow back down into the meat, a technique that was especially helpful for the traditional Berber communities who did not always have access to an abundance of water.
Since returning home, I’ve tried many Moroccan restaurants, but nothing quite compared to the authentic and fresh flavors and foods I tasted, or the experience of having a smoking hot tagine served to your patio table watching the hustle and bustle of a Moroccan market go by.
Want to know more about Moroccan tagines?
Djej mquailli is a chicken tagine served with delicious preserved lemons, olives and couscous
Another popular tagine is kefta (spiced meatballs) served with eggs and tomato sauce
In the markets, you will see many ceramic tagines for sale. However, many are decorative serving dishes only! If you plan to cook with tagine, ensure you have one that was made for cooking and can withstand the heat
Click here for tagine recipes from our blog.
Click here to read about street food in Marrakesh.