A dish named after its vessel, or vice versa. A tagine is both the pot and the rich, braised stew cooked inside of it in North African cuisine. Tagines are composed of two pieces: a round, shallow base and a conical lid that collects and redistributes moisture as the food cooks.
What are they made from?
Traditionally, tagines are made of earthenware or ceramic, but you’ll find them now with clad-stainless or even cast-iron bases. They can be glazed or unglazed. You’ll find them in a wide range of sizes, from petite versions that make enough to serve one or two, to large pieces that can feed a crowd.
How do I use one?
Earthenware tagines are traditionally used over hot charcoal, keeping the heat as low as possible to maintain a gentle simmer. In your kitchen, you can also use most tagines on the stovetop (though you may need a diffuser) and in the oven, but be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions.
If your tagine has a cast-iron or stainless base, you can use it over higher heat on the stove to brown ingredients before placing the lid on top and finishing on lower heat or in the oven.
A glazed earthenware tagine will need to be seasoned before its first use—be sure to check with the manufacturer on how to do that. In most cases, soaking it in cold water for a few hours and allowing it to dry will do the trick.
Some tagines, especially ones with elaborately painted lids, are designed purely for serving and shouldn’t be used for cooking. Again, check with the manufacturer.
A tagine isn’t only for cooking tagines. Any of your favorite stews or braises will work well in this vessel. And nothing beats the dramatic presentation of carrying a tagine to the table, lifting the lid and letting the incredible aromas of your dish pour out of it.