Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cooking it up Tajine Style

My Mother recently surprised me with an early Birthday present - a fire engine red Tajine by Emile Henry. This is a great gift and was quite a surprise. Last year I had dinner in a Morrocan restaurant after touring the cathedral in Chartres, France. The restaurant served these large savory dishes cooked in a Tajine. The food arrived at your table in large, deep ceramic platters that were scalding hot. It was delicious and fun.
A Tajine is a heavy glazed ceramic cooking vessel that originates in Morraco. It consists of two pieces. The bottom is a round, deep dish that resembles an oversize apple pie dish. The top is shaped like a tall cone that perfectly fits over the bottom dish. It can be placed in the oven, but usually is meant for the stove top or traditionally over a fire. The tajine is meant for slow cooking. A little liquid is added to each recipe which when heated turns to steam that circulates around the food in the ample room created by the cone. It is a combination of steaming and sauteing. Cooking time varies but is generally several hours. The long cooking time allows the food to be fully infused with the herbs and spices used in this type of cooking.
Last weekend I tried out a Berber Tajine Vegetable Dish. It consisted of layers of onion, potatoes, turnips, zucchini, tomoto, and carrots with lots of spices. After two hours of cooking, the vegetables were soft and very flavorful. The ginger, pepper, cumin, rosemary, and thyme (from Elly's garden!) really came through. Elly gave two thumbs up. Fresh baked bread serves as a good side.


Maddy said...

That sounds delicious! I've seen them in a number of stores and often wondered what you cooked in them. I didn't realize it was a special crock-pot! Maybe one day I'll get to taste one of your Tajine creations.

Barbara said...

When you say that the cooking time is 2 hours, I wonder how we ever got them at Chartres. We did wait a while, but not two hours!

I will bring the bread!