The Tajine Guide

So, you are here to learn about tajines. That's good, because in the following I have summarized what you really need to know to get started. Everything is kept simple and easy to understand, so that even you as a non-Berber can conjure up a delicious Tajine.

In short, the Tajine is a stewing device with a conical lid and flat bottom. In the past, Berbers used to make it out of clay, but today it is more clay. Well, and unfortunately you don't know enough about it to start braising. But we will change that now!

Who is the Tajine for?

Apart from the Berbers, the Tajine is particularly suitable for beginners. You only have to follow a few rules and you will reliably obtain a very delicate and aromatic result that will impress your fellow men.

What do I use the Tajine for?

The Berber cookware is traditionally used on a pot with charcoal for braising. This means that the food is cooked slowly in its own juice and steam and at low heat. At home, we do this best in the oven, but on the stove is also possible. If you use juicy food, such as chicken drumsticks, tomatoes, onions or a leg of lamb, then the gravy is sufficient. But if you prefer to stew something dry, like carrots, then you should add some more liquid. In principle, water is sufficient, but it is more delicious with broth, wine, honey, rose water, fruit juice, ...

Which meat is suitable for braising?

In short, the more strained the muscle, the better. So imagine the animal in its habitat and think about which muscles it needs a lot and which not. For example, a cow runs around a lot, but uses its back less. A strong and much used muscle like e.g. the shoulder is interspersed with connective tissue and at first tough, while a back steak can be distorted if fried only briefly. But if you take the shoulder and expose it in a tajine to a constant low heat for a long time, the collagen in the connective tissue turns into gelatine. Gelatine can bind a great deal of moisture and ensures that the cooked piece is tender and juicy. However, if you take a rather lightly marbled piece of meat, e.g. fillet, the meat juice will escape unchecked and leave a dry roast.

Which vegetables are suitable for braising?

When you braise vegetables, you should make sure that the vegetables used have about the same cooking time. For example, you can combine potatoes and carrots, while a tomato would cook. Theoretically, you can first put the vegetable with the longest cooking time in it, and then gradually put the other vegetable on top during the cooking process. However, I recommend that you keep the lid closed, at least when you cook meat.

What makes the Tajine special?

A traditional tajine is fired from clay or loam. The conical shape of the lid allows the rising steam of the cooking food to condense on the walls and run down again. This is called a vapor barrier. As a result, not one milliliter of valuable and delicious gravy is lost. Every bit of aroma is preserved!

The different tajines

In short, there are tajines with or without glaze. All other special shapes are not considered here, they are usually only suitable for dressing. If you are using a classic clay tajine, there is little to consider. Its vapor barrier becomes more effective over time and use, this is due to the patina.

If you use a glazed tajine, choose a dealer you trust. The colors are leaded in the worst case. However, the tajines available at Leyla's are food-safe glazed and can easily be used for cooking. They are easier to clean and aromas do not settle as easily. Otherwise, one proceeds with them as usual.

Another special feature are tajines with a match-sized hole in the lid.

How do I use the Tajine?

So, now it really starts! There are a few, but very important things to consider.

1. water well before the first use. This is done to ensure that the tajine heats up as evenly as possible and that no stress cracks occur. Once cracked, the tajine is broken. It is best to put the tajine in your full wax basin in the evening and then forget about it.

The next day it is ready for use. I had the pictured Tajine in the water for one morning. If you are very motivated, you can also inaugurate it. With water, oil and vegetables you create the first patina in the oven. I'm lazy and make myself a real meal in it right away. That also creates a patina, or since my tajine is glazed anyway, I don't need to do that anyway.

2. water again before each further use! Now the generous rinsing off is really enough!

3. the Tajine is now filled. There are plenty of recipes, but you can also be creative yourself. Especially good, proven and creative recipes are of course available in this recipe database. In this tajine I used leftovers. Half cooked couscous with eggplants, carrots, salted lemons, olives and olive oil I arranged in a typical pyramid shape. I seasoned it with salt and pepper.

4. fill the hollow on the lid with water. This is mainly to keep the bowl from getting hot and to use it as a handle. It should also make the steam inside condense better. But I think the small puddle is best suited to keep the clay moist.

5. now put the tajine in the cold oven, or on the cold stove. The heat source should warm up slowly, together with the tajine. Just to make sure that the clay does not crack. Modern ovens don't know this and shoot at it. That's why you should heat it manually in 50°C steps in 15 minute intervals to the final temperature. My final temperature was 150°C and in total the Tajine was in the oven for one hour.

6. at the end of the cooking time the tajine is put on the table as it is. In front of the amazed eyes of the hungry guests the lid is now lifted and a cloud of fragrant steam makes every mouth water. And if you have placed your food nicely in advance, you can be sure of the admiration of your guests...

7. since an unglazed tajine not only absorbs water, but everything that is liquid, you unfortunately have to do without the dishwasher and soap when cleaning. The tajine naturally absorbs gravy during braising, and that is intentional. Over time, this creates the aforementioned patina, which at best deepens the aroma. But if an unwanted aroma has settled, you can spray it with vinegar essence, wait a little and rinse it off. Encrustations are best removed with raised sleeves and a pot sponge. The small glazed tajine shown in the picture is easier to clean.

Well, have fun trying it out,

Your Lexi and Leyla

Became curious?

Have a look in our store! There you will not only find tajines in different sizes, but also the matching tableware!