Peruse any traditional menu in Morocco and you’ll soon be acquainted with tajines; in fact peruse the menus of restaurants in places like the Medina in Marrakech and you’ll start to wonder if there is anything else to eat as a main dish other than a tajine in Morocco.
The name actually refers to the container the meal is cooked in as well as the dish itself. This is a two piece earthenware affair, usually called a beldi tajine, which consists of a circular base in which the ingredients are cooked and over which a conical dome is placed.
The ingredients for the tajine involve whatever vegetables and fruit are available at the time of year it’s being prepared. These are normally combined with a cheap cut of meat (not essential) and an exotic mix of spices (it’s Morocco; there’s got to be an exotic mix of spices) such as cinnamon, cumin, ginger, paprika, cayenne pepper, pepper and that most excellent of Moroccan spices, ras al hanout.
Basically, the ingredients are slow cooked in the tajine until it’s ready to be served. In stalls in Morocco this is done over what looks like mini clay barbecues. The tajine’s sloped sides allows condensation to run back into the dish’s tray keeping the mixture moist until the meat is fall-away-from-the-bone tender.
Serving it is easy, peasy. The tajine is brought straight to your table and the conical lid removed leaving a delicious, steaming sweet and savoury example of Moroccan cuisine.
They’re always served with chunks of wonderful Moroccan bread which is ideal for mopping up the tajine’s juices so not a morsel is wasted.