A happy 32nd anniversary dinner tonight! Thank-You Robin for all that love and those many years! The gardenia pictured here is on our front porch. Last century, when Robin and I would go to a formal dance, I would get her a corsage of gardenia. This plant is fitting and brings back many fond memories.
The dinner tonight, Tagine of Lamb with Peas and Fennel, is a very traditional Moroccan dish and tonight we prepared it in a traditional way – in a tagine.
A tajine or tagine (Arabic: طاجين tajin from the Arabic: طاج) is a historically North African Berber dish that is named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. A similar dish known as tavvas is found in Cypriot cuisine. The traditional method of cooking with a tajine is to place it over coals. Use of the tajine can be compared to stewing.
The traditional tajine pot is made of pottery, which is sometimes painted or glazed. It consists of two parts: a base unit that is flat and circular with low sides and a large cone- or dome-shaped cover that sits on the base during cooking. The cover is designed to promote the return of all condensation to the bottom. Tajines can also be cooked in a conventional oven or on a stove top.
Tajine is traditionally cooked over hot charcoal leaving an adequate space between the coals and the tajine pot to avoid having the temperature rise too fast. Large bricks of charcoal are purchased specifically for their ability to stay hot for hours. Smaller pieces of charcoal are reserved for cooking brochettes (barbecue) and other grilled meats.
Other methods are to use a tajine in a slow oven or on a gas or electric stove top, on lowest heat necessary to keep the stew simmering gently. A diffuser – a circular piece of aluminium placed between the tajine and burner – is used to evenly distribute the stove’s heat. European manufacturers have created tajines with heavy cast-iron bottoms that can be heated on a cooking stove to a high temperature. This permits the browning of meat and vegetables before cooking.
Tajine cooking may be replicated by using a slow cooker or similar item; but the result will be slightly different. Many ceramic tajines are decorative items as well as functional cooking vessels. Some tajines, however, are intended only to be used as decorative serving dishes. [Wikipedia]