Last December I was in Morocco with my brother. We traveled across the country, visiting cities and villages along the way. It’s a magical country, very safe to travel and people are generally nice and charming.
If you don’t get scared by how pushy they can be to sell you stuff. Food is generally great and cheap, we’ve been disappointed just a few times. In Morocco, from the Reef Mountains to the desert, it’s impossible not to end up trying one of the many variations of this famous dish. The tagine is a terra-cotta pan with a conical terra-cotta lid. You can find them everywhere in Morocco, every restaurant has its special tagine and shops sell the pan in different sizes, with or without ornaments. I decided to buy a real, plain one (minimally decorated), because this is what they use in their houses and in restaurants. As usual, I try to stay away from the touristy stuff.
I observed how they make tagine and last week I had some time to try and make it at home. Took the recipe from a book I bought in Morocco, compared a couple of other recipes I found online. They all say pretty much the same ingredients, and the preparation is very simple. It just takes some time to cook. Very very slow cooking. Here are the ingredients for 2-3 people. Try to leave some fat near the meat, it will melt during the cooking and will ad a lot of flavor to the final result.
- 1lbs (circa 500g) Lamb meat
- 1 Large onion
- 2 Cloves of garlic
- Extra virgin Olive Oil
- a small bunch of parsley
- 1 teaspoon of Ras el Hanout (a middle eastern mix of spices, here the Wiki page)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron threads
- 1 teaspoon saffron powder (i only use the one from L’Aquila, in Abruzzo, the best in the world)
- 1 teaspoon of fresh minced ginger
- Dry sweet chili pepper (whole dry peppers)
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup Pitted Prunes
- 1 cup of silvered almonds
- 1/2 cut of freshly toasted sesame seeds
Start chopping the onion very finely, place the tagine over the stove, turn the flame to medium-low and make the onion sweat with some EVOO. Keep the lid on the side for now. Add the entire garlic cloves and let them stir for 5 minutes. Add the meat, make it sear on each side. At this point, add all the other ingredients in the list but the last 3. Now, you only need patience, a book, a good movie or someone to snuggle. Turn the flame to low, put the lid on and let it go for at least a couple of hours. Every 30 minute check how is it going, add some water if it gets too dry and gently stir it. Taste the tagine after a couple of hours, add some salt (some recipes add also honey and sugar, but I found the prunes to be already sweet enough). Add the prunes and the almonds and let it go for at least 20 more minutes.
Your tagine should be ready now, sprinkle it in sesame seeds before bringing it to the table with a nice a plain cous-cous to be used as a side. Hope you like it.