Tagine: A Moroccan Staple

Post Author: Peregrine, Arabic Flagship Program student

Tagine is one of the most popular dishes in Morocco and a staple food. Served with couscous and any variety of meat and vegetable that you want, there is something for everyone to enjoy! Tagine can also refer to a type of pot, it has two parts: a bowl base and a conical lid. Where tagine originated is up for debate but many believe that the Phoenicians brought it in the 12th century when they visited Northern Africa. Tagine is usually paired with couscous, which is widely eaten throughout the world, but tagine and couscous has been shaped by Jewish and Andalusian influence, making it unique.

Tagine is traditionally made with a meat such as lamb, beef, or chicken, as well as vegetables like onion, potato, and tomatoes. Even fruits and nuts like apricots, raisins, and almonds are added. It has a stew like consistency, especially if you mix in couscous.

 
 

The pot tagine is cooked in is designed to run condensation back down to the bottom of the pot, and also to keep the ingredients from heating too fast; it acts like a slow cooker. They are made from pottery and glazed, some by hand but nowadays they even have electric tagines.

Moroccans and Algerians make the more traditional type of tagine described above. What Tunisians call tagine is more like a quiche or frittata. Some of the ingredients are similar, like tomatoes and olives, but some of the spices are different. The spices are arguably the most important part of either type of tagine. Some that can be used are ginger, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron, paprika and chili. Tunisian tagine will have coriander as well. The addition of so many spices is typical of an Arab or Jewish dish, both cultures value flavor. 

Some tagine pots are an art form, and purely decorative. They may be shaped and painted in beautiful ways and fetch high prices, especially with tourists.

Tagine is both delicious and a big part of Moroccan culture and has been around for many years and will hopefully continue to brighten many more kitchens.

All photos used provided by Creative Commons. Click the image to view original source. 

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