Berber Tagine

Tagine – Understanding a Magic Dish!

Origins, Varieties, and Tips!

Tagine is one of the most popular dishes of Moroccan cuisine, but the word “Tagine” could have two meanings, which is sometimes confusing for non-Moroccans. So, Here’s a better understanding of the magic dish: “Tagine” stands for a slowly cooked stew-like dish that includes meat, vegetables, and sometimes fruits or nuts. This dish is traditionally cooked in an earthenware pot called “Tagine.” Tagine dishes are incredibly aromatic, and the flavor is to die for!

Tagine Origins

Berbers, or Imazighen, meaning “free people,” are the autochthonous inhabitants of Morocco and North Africa. Berbers originally invented both the pots and the ingredients. As a result of the Moorish, Andalusian, and European cultural influences over the centuries, Tagine started to take different forms in Morocco, resulting in many Tagine varieties. We’re not complaining; they are ALL delicious!

Tagine Varieties

There are dozens of different Tagines in Morocco. I have a special connection with these because they’re tied to happy memories. For example, my dad would make beef Cardoon when I was in college and visited home during the holidays. They’re all different and delicious, and you must try at least one! Here are the most popular and my favorites:

1. Berber Tagine

This Tagine celebrates a variety of vegetables mixed with meat and flavored with ginger and herbs. Berber Tagine is the original and most flexible of all Tagines! You may substitute chicken for beef or omit the meat to make it vegan. You may also use one, two, or as many veggies as you’d like.

Berber Tagine
Berber Tagine with beef shanks, potatoes, carrots, zucchini, green beans, and sweet peas – Served with Moroccan whole wheat bread on the side.
2. Royal Tagine

This Tagine is a delicacy served on special occasions; therefore, its name is “Royal.” First, the beef is slowly cooked. Next, it is combined with a prune marinade of honey, ginger, and orange blossom water. Finally, the Tagine is topped with fried almonds, boiled eggs, and sesame seeds. This dish is so sweet, savory, and incredibly delicious! If you want to know what a fancy Moroccan dish tastes like, you should try this Royal Tagine!

The Royal Moroccan Tagine
Moroccan Royal Tagine with beef shanks, prune marmalade, fried blanched almonds, boiled eggs, and sesame seeds.
3. Beef Cardoon Tagine

Cardoon is a leek vegetable that looks like a giant artichoke, but you can only eat the steam. It’s found in the Mediterranean region, mainly Morocco and Portugal, and you may occasionally find it in the U.S. The Cardoon Tagine is one of my favorite dishes because my dad made it for me when I visited home during college. It’s incredibly fragrant and brings back precious memories.

4. Green Bean Tagine

The Moroccan beef Tagine with green beans is seasoned with warm spices, flavored with preserved lemons, and cooked with yummy tomato chunks to boost its flavor! This Tagine dish brings back precious memories and fun times spent with my late, loving father. He made this Tagine with so much love, and we would split the beans and sit down to chit-chat as the meat was cooking. Not only is this Tagine fragrant, healthy, and keto-friendly, but it’s also one of the most delicious Moroccan dishes!

Green Bean Tagine
Moroccan Beef Tagine with Green Beans, Tomatoes, and Preserved Lemons
5. Artichoke and Sweet Pea Tagine

The Moroccan lamb Tagine with artichokes and sweet peas is another treasure of Moroccan cuisine! It has an amazing array of fragrant spices paired with tender meat and a citrusy flavor! Not only is it incredibly flavorful, but it also makes an inviting meal for the whole family to enjoy. Would you like to give it a try? Here’s the full recipe!

Artichoke and Sweet Pea Tagine
Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Artichokes and Sweet Peas
6. Fish Tagine with Chermoula

Chermoula is a Moroccan marinade made of tomato sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, garlic, and spices. Marinate some Cod, Whiting, or your favorite fish in Moroccan Chermoula, then cook it on the stove or stick it in the oven. The flavor will be nothing like you have ever tasted before! Get the full recipe here!

Moroccan Fish Tagine with Chermoula
Fish Tagine baked in Chermoula, a delicious Moroccan marinade.
7. Thyme Zucchini Tagine

This Tagine is so aromatic and flavorful that it calls for a good nap afterward! Slowly cook some beef shanks with zucchini and ginger, and top it off with fresh or dried thyme—Delish, yet, another quick-to-make Tagine for us busy folks.

8. Kafta Egg Tagine

The Kafta Tagine is made of beef or lamb meatballs cooked in tomato sauce and topped with poached eggs. Seasoned with ginger, mint, and a dash of cinnamon, this flavorful, easy-to-make Tagine makes the perfect family dinner for busy working Moroccans. 

9. Chicken and Preserved Lemon Tagine

What’s better than chicken drumsticks, breasts, or a whole chicken slowly cooked in a flavorful, tangy sauce? Throw in some green olives and French fries, and you got yourself a yummy licking finger Chicken and Preserved Lemon Tagine!

Chicken Tagine
“Chicken and preserved lemon Tagine with French fries and olives – Served with Moroccan” Khobz” Bread and mint tea on the side.Chicken and preserved lemon Tagine with French fries and olives – Served with Moroccan “Khobz” Bread and mint tea on the side.

The Tagine Pot

Traditionally, Tagine pots are made of clay and could be either glazed or unglazed. Although the pots are widely available in Morocco and North Africa, deciding which one to buy is sometimes challenging, especially if you live in North America. So, here are a few tips to consider before selecting your Tagine pot:

First, the unglazed clay Tagine is the more traditional of the two and is usually lead-free and safe to cook and serve the dishes in. However, it usually requires a diffuser plus some experience because it cooks differently.

Second, if you’re new to Tagine cooking, you may want to consider buying a glazed version. Glazed clay or cast iron enamel is more expensive, but they are the most common in the U.S. and work best for beginners.

Third, whether you are on a budget or feel like splurging, you can always find a decent Tagine pot at Amazon, Sur la Table, or your local Moroccan/Middle Eastern grocery store.

Finally, deciding your Tagine size and how many people you will be cooking for is vital. Investing in a Tagine pot is worth it, but If you can’t find one, a Dutch oven, aka cocotte, will work just as well.

Health and Safety Tips

Some glass, ceramic, and enameled cookware are manufactured with lead. Always select lead-free and non-toxic cookware to keep chemicals out of your foods. When in doubt, ask the manufacturer.

When preparing Tagines, always wash your hands after handling raw meat to avoid the spread of harmful bacteria.

Tagines are best cooked on low or low-medium heat. Therefore, they may crack if cooked on high heat.

Check out this yummy Berber Tagine recipe!
Moroccan Berber Tagine
Berber Tagine is a simple and savory festival of flavors: meat seasoned with flavorful spices, fresh vegetables topped with aromatic herbs, and a sauce full of veggie juice. A fantastic treat for the cold season! Skip the meat to make it Vegan, or omit the potatoes to make it Keto!
Check out this recipe
Berber Tagine

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