How to Use a Moroccan Tagine Pot Step by Step
How to use a tagine pot? If there is one thing I get asked about a lot it’s this question: How to cook in a Moroccan tagine pot and is it easy and worth it to integrate tagines into one’s cooking routine?
Well, absolutely yes! And I highly encourage you to do so. Honestly, I can’t imagine a cooking routine that doesn’t include using tagine pot cookware.
And I’m not only saying this because I am of Moroccan origins, or because I grew up eating tagine dishes very regularly. It’s really because these little clay tagine pots are magical. They can create amazing tastes and flavors that you will be craving more and more. Plus, they are one of the healthiest cookware thanks to their composition, clay, and slow cooking that allows nutrient preservation.
Moroccan tagine pots are really easy to use once you know tagine characteristics and the traditional cooking techniques. That’s what I will detail in this tagine cooking guide, based on my experience with tagines both in Morocco and outside Morocco.
Cooking vs. Serving Tagines
A very important thing to know is that not all tagine pots available in the market are made for cooking. In fact, many of them are only for serving purposes, meaning you can’t use them on the stove.
It can get a little tricky here as many sellers claim their serving tagine pots are compatible with cooking too, while it’s not the case. If you are unsure, ask your seller again, especially if your tagine pot is heavily and beautifully decorated.
The general rule of thumb is if a tagine pot is pretty basic or has very small embellishments, it’s more likely to be a cooking tagine. Otherwise, you need to double-check.
If you don’t have a tagine pot yet, here is a thorough guide to finding the right tagine pot for your family.
Seasoning a Tagine Pot
Seasoning tagine pots also called curing a tagine pot, is a PRIMORDIAL step in tagine preparation. Unfortunately, many overlook this step, resulting in fragile tagine pots that can easily crack and break.
Seasoning a tagine pot consists of preparing your tagine base and lid for future uses by sealing and strengthening its structure. This is done ONCE, before the very first use, through a series of simple steps which include soaking the tagine pot, brushing it with oil, and cooking it in a low-heated oven for a couple of hours.
Seasoning is important, and most cooking tagine pots in the market are sold unseasoned. If you haven’t seasoned your tagine pot yet, make sure you check my tagine pot seasoning and cure guide.
Using a Heat Diffuser with your Tagine
Another important thing to remember is that clay tagines are really sensitive to heat. So always use your tagine pot on a low-to-medium heat and ALWAYS use a good-quality heat diffuser. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before your tagine cracks. As requested by many, I will share at the end of the article the products I use with my tagine.
This $20 stainless steel heat diffuser is the one I’ve been using for years, but you can get any comparable heat diffuser.
Using tagines on Gas or Electric Stoves
You can perfectly use your tagine pot on your Gas or Electric stove if you use your tagine pot on a heat diffuser on low-to-medium heat.
When cooking in your tagine pot, check regularly to make sure the ingredients don’t stick to the bottom. That’s why heat diffusers are very handy, in fact, when you are using your tagine with a heat diffuser, the sauce won’t evaporate quickly and your tagine experience will be much more relaxed.
TAGINE COOKING STEPS
One of the most popular tagine recipes is the meatballs tagine. It’s also one of the easiest tagine recipes to make. I will share with you the detailed steps below.
There are as many tagine recipes as there are regions in Morocco and I must admit it, most online recipes don’t respect the traditional way of making a Moroccan tagine. So, if you are looking for authentic tagine recipes, then I highly recommend this Moroccan tagine cookbook. It’s the one I always recommend to my non-Moroccan friends as it shares the traditional recipes with easy, detailed steps, perfect for even beginners.
STEP 1: Prepare the base layer
The first step is to place a layer of onions (depending on the recipes they are either cut in cubes or rings). Then add garlic and cooking oil in this step and lightly cook everything for a couple of minutes. For four servings, you can use one small onion, 1 medium garlic clove, and 5 tbsp olive oil.
STEP 2: Add the crushed tomatoes and spices
Once the onions become slightly transparent, add 1 pound of crushed tomatoes and spices: 1 tsp paprika powder, 1/2 tsp pepper powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, and salt.
Mix well and let cook on slow heat for 15 to 20 minutes checking occasionally that nothing sticks at the bottom of your tagine pot.
STEP 3: Add the meatballs to the cooking sauce
Prepare your meatballs by manually mixing 1 pound minced meat with spices and herbs (1 tbsp coriander, 1 tbsp parsley, 1 tsp paprika powder, 1/2 tsp pepper powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, and salt).
Form small meatballs and gently add them to the sauce cooking in your tagine. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until your meatballs are cooked to your taste.
STEP 4 (OPTIONAL): Crack a few eggs on top of the meatballs
Once everything is cooked to your taste, crack one or two eggs on top of the meatballs and let cook for a couple of minutes. Decorate with fresh coriander and parsley.
Serve hot with fresh bread.
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