Tagines and Basotho hats.
A Tagine is a spicy North African dish typically associated with Morroco – and is also the name of the special spaceship-type pot it is cooked in.
Traditionally, Tagines were made of thick clay and then painted or glazed. They have two parts: a circular dish with low sides for a base and a cone-shaped cover. Back in the day, Tagines would be used over open fires (much like our beloved potjie) but these days they have been revised and given cast-iron bases so that they can be used across various heat sources.
The distinct shape of the lid is not just for decoration. The sloped walls create a perfect surface for converting rising steam into condensation, which gathers and returns to the bottom of the dish. Clever. The ceramic lid stays cool during cooking, which maximizes the moisture sent back down to the ingredients.
Tagines are used over low-heat. This was perfect in olden times, as a meal could be left simmering over a fire while everyone went off to work for the day, and would be ready and waiting when they got home. The Tagine is basically the matriarch of the slow-cooker family, and deserves much respect.
Le Creuset make a great Tagine. It can be used on any heat source, or on it’s own as a baking dish in the oven. There are loads of wonderful Tagine recipes out there for meat, poultry, vegetables, fish and even desserts. You can also bake in Tagines – the base doubles up as a fantastic pie or pastry dish.
A final observation about the Tagine is that it bears a remarkable resemblance to the Basotho Hat – the national symbol of our neighbour Lesotho. A coinicidence? We think not.
If you are thinking of investing in a Tagine, check out what we have available here.