Monday, 24 October 2011

Vegetable Tagine

Seven years ago I went to live in Morocco. When I was there I became intoxicated by the dark coloured glass lanterns, carpets and crockery. One of the things that has stayed with me to this day is the smell of tagines cooking outside over coals. I bought a metal stand to bring home and cook tagine over coals at home. I went for the lighter metal stand as opposed to the terracotta ones due to the weight on the plane journey home. 

Well that was seven years ago and I made my first tagine last Saturday - a bit of a gap then! Well I just never got round to getting a pot, I know I know a lame excuse but that is my story and I am sticking to it.  Joe and I were fortunate enough to be gifted a beautiful family sized tagine pot in our recent nuptuals. Unfortuantely the weather here has now well and truly turned so my first tagine was made on the gas hob and the coal stand is yet to have its maiden voyage.

Tagines are used to slow cook meat and vegetables into rich stews. Because of the domed chimney like lid  the steam is trapped and the condensed liquid back into the pot. Only a small amount of water is needed to make your meat and or vegetables lovely and tender. This cooking method is very practical in areas where water is in short supply.

Being a vege I went for a vegetable only tagine. One of the staples of a Moroccan tagine is Harissa. Being allergic to peppers and therefore paprika I am very carefull about spice or paste mixes so I generally prepare my own. The other advantage of making your own is you get more freedom.

For the harissa;

3 chillies
2 sweet chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 freshly grated muscat
3 garlic cloves
1/2 inch galangal
3 lime leaves
salt
white pepper
5 cloves
sesame oil (a dash)
veg oil (a dash)

The method for this is easy. Grind all of your dry spices into powder. Then use a pestle and mortar to grind your wet ingredients into a paste. Last but not least Mix the wet and dry ingredients together. You can keep the paste in the fridge for a month.

For the tagine;


3 carrots
2 potatoes
A large handful of  green beans
1 Aubergine
1 un-waxed lemon
Veg stock
2 onions
4 tomatoes
4 vegetarian sausages


(NB: the ingredients listed above are there no rules really you can throw in almost anything olives, boiled eggs just experiment.)


Method;
  1. Chop your onion and fry in a drizzle of oil until soft then add you harissa paste to taste. Moroccan food is not as spicy as some Middle Eastern or African quisne.
  2. Add all of the rest of your vegetables that you have cut into sizable chunks nothing too small or they will become mushy not tender. The lemon I cut into eighths in wedge form and placed into the pot.

3. Here is an optional stage to add any further dry spices. You may want to add more            corriander or sumac, or if you're not allergic like me some smoked paprika. 
  4. Then add your vegetable stock enough to just cover the veg. Cover and simmer until      the veg is fork tender. This will take at least 30 mins. Keep your gas on the lowest setting.


Serve hot with cous cous or how I ate it in Morocco with crusty bread straight out of the pot.


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