The term tajine is Berber-derived and indicates both the type of North African pot made of earthenware or ceramic and the typical Moroccan traditional dish cooked inside the same pot.
You may be familiar with those beautiful, iconic images of local Moroccan markets showing rows and rows of these charming copper-colored access utensils, often decorated in warm-toned patterns. Indeed, it is no coincidence that the tajine has become one of the symbols of Moroccan culture: it encapsulates various arts, combining culinary technique, aesthetics, and tradition.
So let’s see together everything there is to know about this seemingly so simple but unbeatable tasting dish. Beware though, by the end of the reading you may get an overwhelming urge to fly to Morocco too!
Tajine uses and traditions
Traditionally, this delicious Berber dish has some types of meat (such as chicken, lamb or fish) as its main ingredients, accompanied by dried fruits or olives and flavored with sauces and spices; in fact, the latter are the key to a perfect result. The special cone-shaped lid is then the main secret of tajine goodness: designed to recirculate steam and create the ideal density typical of the dish.
If, like me, your mouth is already watering, you will be happy to know that in addition to meat, the tajine can also feature legumes, potatoes and vegetables, making the dish even more versatile and juicy. Once it is ready, however, the real magic happens at the table: typically familiar, the tajine is served, accompanied by bread or cous cous, in the center of the table, becoming an occasion for conviviality and sharing that is rooted in a culture with a strong family tradition and that places hospitality at the center. Eating tajine thus turns out to be a real experience not only for the palate but also human.
Behind the production anduse of tajine lies a true art as well as countless life lessons, let’s look at some of them together.
- Once purchased, the tajine involves a special treatment that absolutely must be implemented before its use, otherwise there is a risk of large cracks in the earthenware. Did you just buy your tajine and can’t wait to flood your kitchen with smells that remind you of your trip to Morocco? Well, first though, carve out some time to pre-treat it and get ready to immerse yourself in the all-around tajine experience. Soak the base and lid in water for a few hours; dry well, if possible in an oven, not preheated, at 150° for an hour or so; finally sprinkle olive oil inside. In short, making tajine turns out to be a true art practice that goes beyond simple cooking.
- Another important note that brings us back to the ancient art of patience: the tajine should not be subjected to strong temperature changes; in fact, it should be heated slowly and with equal patience we must wait for it to cool. Like many traditional dishes, it takes us back to a dimension of waiting and slowness, aspects we may not be so accustomed to anymore but which are the secret to the goodness, culinary and otherwise, of life.
- Once we have eaten the delicious Berber dish, we certainly cannot think of entrusting the washing of the tajine to the dishwasher: it is important not only to wash it by hand, but to use only natural products for washing it, such as lemon, vinegar or baking soda. If you have always used chemicals without asking too many questions, tajine will be a great incentive to switch to using natural products, thus doing an act of love for yourself and the planet (if you want to find out what other actions you can take to safeguard the planet by taking care of yourself, read also this article!).
Well, now that you know the main things to know about tajine you just have to book a trip to Morocco (if you feel like experiencing a solo trip remember that you can count on my services My Friend in), invite friends over for dinner and enjoy a meal with an ancient and delicious flavor.
Enjoy your meal!