Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tagine Cookery

Looking for a yummy break from takeout and holiday shopping mayhem this week? Hit the spice store on your way home and make a tagine for dinner.

A tagine is a Moroccan/North African dish and also the traditional Moroccan cooking vessel that it is cooked in. Also used in other North African and Turkish cookery, a tagine can be rice, couscous, lentil, vegetable, or meat based and simmered with dried fruit, spices, and nuts. There are many Moroccan and Turkish cookware websites featuring cooking tagines. There are also lots of common stores that carry them. Stores like TJMaxx and Marshall's often carry them at fantastic discounts and top brands such as Le Creuset are making tagines now, too.

Most likely, you can find one at a good price. Here are some links if you feel like browsing. Some of these are so gorgeous! I have also included some spice store links in case you have a hard time finding spices or get inspired and need something exotic. You will probably find the spices for the recipe below in your regular grocery store.

Tagines, Recipes, and Resources:

(In New York, also mail order) --two of my favorite stores!
(In Chicago, also mail order)--never been here, but it looks great! Any feedback, Chicagoans?
(In St. Louis, also mail order)--never been here either, Thoughts and feedback welcome!

I got nothing for LA or San Fran--if any of you Californians know anything, please post it!

The difference between cooking with a tagine and cooking in a regular Dutch oven or casserole is the conical shape of the lid. As the dish heats, the hot air circulates within, blending the flavors and simmering all of together to create delectable and complex results. (Almost an early version of the CrockPot...just in a clay vessel... over a fire.) Most tagines can also be cooked over medium heat on the stove, covered, and then transferred to the oven. Even the terra cotta or clay styles are usually tempered for various uses. Check your instructions first. You may have to soak or "season" in the oven before the first use.

If you are not up for the investment, but want to do the recipe, it will work fine in a Dutch oven or covered casserole. You may have to cook it a bit longer and/or stir it once for even cooking.

If you decide to tagine along with me, I hope you find it brings you lots of joy. An excellent buy if you like to entertain, they look fab as serving dishes too!

Here is a rice tagine I made tonight for dinner after dealing with shopping crowds at Herald Square. I just threw everything in and waited for the timer to ding. I combined a few different tagine recipe into one and got this. I served it with Coriander-Lemon marinated Chicken and Flounder Fillets. If you want to, you could actually put meat or fish right into the uncooked rice and liquid just before it goes in the oven. You want authentic? That's authentic!

Spiced Brown Rice Tagine

Digging around my spice shelf, I came across some Utah Basin semi-coarse salt with fragrant spices, so I used that. C'est Magnifique!

1 cup chopped onion
4 T extra virgin olive oil
2 t sea salt
1 t turmeric
2 t garam masala
2 t ground coriander
2 t sweet paprika
1/2 t ground cumin
3/4 cup brown basmati rice
1/2 cup chopped raw cashews
1 cup frozen peas (frozen or thawed)
1/2 cup dried currants

1 1/2 cups water
2 T sweet paprika pepper puree (found in a tube in Mediterranean stores) or use 2 T paprika
1 bay leaf

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Cook onion on low heat with olive oil salt, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, paprika, and cumin for 15 minutes, or until onion is translucent and spices are becoming fragrant.

Add rice, cashews, peas, and currants and stir until evenly distributed. Cook three minutes.

Add water and pepper puree or paprika, and bay leaf and bring to a bold simmer. Add cilantro and mint.

Cover and bake in the oven for about 50-60 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
You should check it at 30 or 40 minutes to see if water is absorbed. If it looks dry and rice is still hard, add another 1/2 cup or so of water.

Serve with meat or veggies. I like serving with a bunch of crushed red pepper or harissa.

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