Here’s a short story—I asked Revol’s Jonathan Pearson, vp sales and marketing, if he could explain the “design” of a tajine pot—made long. Jonathan says… “What is a tajine and what makes it so trendy and used around the world? And why the shape ??”
What is a tajine ?
The tajine—sometimes spelled tagine—is the traditional clay cooking pot used by North African cooks to conjure up deliciously spiced, slow-cooked stews and braises. It can be used to make both tender meat dishes and fragrant vegetable concoctions. Both traditional clay and modern tajines, made from a variety of materials, share the same design—a shallow base with a tall, curved, cone-shaped lid.
Selecting a tajine
Understand the design. All tajines have a distinctive shape–a shallow bottom with raised sides and a curved, cone-shaped top that condenses cooking vapors, keeping the dish moist as it slowly cooks. Some tajines have an opening at the narrow top of the cone, others do not–the hole helps steam escape in tajines with a tight-fitting lid.
Consider clay. Traditional cooking tajines are made from clay, sometimes simply glazed, while others are decorated with colorful Moroccan-style motifs. The clay gives dishes an earthy flavor. There are also decorative ceramic vessels that are designed simply to be used to present dishes, not to cook them. Be sure your tajine is meant for the oven if you plan to cook with it.
Opt for convenience. Modern tajines are made from cast iron, porcelain-covered cast iron and stainless steel. They often cost up to three or four times more than a traditional clay tajine; however, they are easier to use since they can move from stovetop to oven and take higher heat when browning ingredients on the stovetop.
If traditional is your choice, you must cure your clay tajine by soaking it in water for at least an hour, then rubbing a small amount of olive oil over the interior. The tajine is then placed in a cold oven which is then set for 350 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours. Some cooks use a heat diffuser with their clay tajine when cooking on the stovetop.
Cooking in a tajine
Some tajine recipes call for ingredients to be layered in the bottom of the tajine, the cover put in place and the tajine carried carefully to a pre-heated oven for a long, slow cooking process. Typically, a small amount of olive oil is poured into the base of the tajine, then ingredients are layered with the more robust and sturdier ingredients going in first. Spices are then sprinkled over the ingredients, plus olives or preserved lemon, very common ingredients in North African cooking.
Other recipes begin on the stovetop, caramelizing meat or hearty vegetables like carrots much like a traditional stew recipe. Other ingredients are then layered on top, spices added, plus a small amount of liquid to help create the sauce. Cooking continues on a low heat on the stovetop, or the dish can be transferred to a low oven for a long braise.
Patience is essential for tajine cooking. The whole point of the tajine’s design is to capture aromatic condensation, allowing the complex, spiced layers to merge into a delicious concoction. Do not try to speed the process by raising the heat, especially if you are using a clay tajine, which can crack if the temperature is too high.
Serve your tajine dish with a flourish, leaving the cone-shaped lid in place until you place it on the table in front of your guests. Lifting the cone will release a cloud of aroma from the wonderful mix of spices and unique ingredients like preserved lemon and fresh olives.
Tajines in Moroccan cuisine are slow-cooked stews braised at low temperatures, resulting in tender meat with aromatic vegetables and sauce. They are traditionally cooked in the tajine pot, whose cover has a knob-like handle at its top to facilitate removal. While simmering, the cover can be lifted off without the aid of a mitten, enabling the cook to inspect the main ingredients, add vegetables, mix the contents, or add additional braising liquid.
Most tajines involve slow simmering of less-expensive meats. For example, the ideal cuts of lamb are the neck, shoulder or shank cooked until it is falling off the bone. Very few Moroccan tajines require initial browning; if there is to be browning it is invariably done after the lamb has been simmered and the flesh has become butter-tender and very moist. In order to accomplish this, the cooking liquid must contain some fat, which may be skimmed off later.
Moroccan tajines often combine lamb or chicken with a medley of ingredients or seasonings: olives, quinces, apples, pears, apricots, raisins, prunes, dates, nuts, with fresh or preserved lemons, with or without honey, with or without a complexity of spices. Traditional spices that are used to flavor tajines include ground cinnamon, saffron, ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika, pepper, as well as the famous spice blend Ras el hanout. Some famous tajine dishes are mqualli or mshermel (both are pairings of chicken, olives and citrus fruits, though preparation methods differ), kefta (meatballs in an egg and tomato sauce), and mrouzia (lamb, raisins and almonds).
Other ingredients for a tajine may include any product that braises well: fish, quail, pigeon, beef, root vegetables, legumes, even amber and agarwood. Modern recipes in the West include pot roasts, ossobuco, lamb shanks and turkey legs. Seasonings can be traditional Moroccan spices, French, Italian or suited to the dish.
“What Makes the REVOL tajine so unique?”
>It is the first tajine in the world that goes on every heat source, you can take it and use it everywhere.
>It is made of culinary grade porcelain, hence it is more durable than the usual ceramic bodies, easier to clean and will not absorb smells or bacteria.
>It is a very clean look—preferred by chefs.
>It is larger than most other tajines, hence more family members can benefit from it.
>Most manufacturers make one or two colors, we have a selection of 7 different colored lid tops.
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