North African cuisine helps melt winter away | The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe explores the Moroccan tagine and the unique flavors that come from it:

Every New Englander has a snow story. Here’s mine. A couple of weeks ago the guy who plows the driveway beached his truck in our yard. It was ugly! The two guys who came to winch him out were discussing a plan of action, and I recognized that the two were speaking Arabic. Turns out they were from Morocco, they said when I asked. And that started a conversation with one of the tow guys about his hometown and my trip to Morocco 25 years ago. I asked about his favorite lamb tagine recipe but our time was cut short by the plow guy’s truck getting back on the road.

A tagine is two things in North Africa. It is a type of clay braising pot and it is the name given to the many different dishes cooked in that pot. A tagine pot can be any size but most are perfect for cooking for four people and the design is brilliant. Made of clay and typically a reddish-brown color, the tagine has a conical top that captures the steam, turns it to condensation, and then lets that moisture fall back onto what is being cooked, making it wonderfully tender.

You don’t lift the top off the pot if you can help it because you’ll lose the essential condensation effect. Most tagine pots are kept at a slow simmer on top of the stove (Moroccan kitchens do not have ovens), but you need a diffuser to make sure they don’t crack. I like to put them in the oven so I can maintain even heat and prevent any messy accidents. Of course, you don’t need a clay tagine to make the dish. Use a Dutch oven, a crock pot, or another braising pot. When you’re ready to buy a tagine, you’ll be glad you did (they’re available at Syrian Grocery Importing Co. in the South End, along with the spices you’ll need, or at www.tagines.com)…[Full Story]

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