It’s two words in one, though both are related. It is both a dish, and the dish the dish is made in! Get it yet?

A tagine is a North African recipe of Berber origin and is a staple of Moroccan cuisine. Berber refers to the indigenous people of North Africa, which includes Morocco.

A tagine is also a cooking vessel with a heavy, flat bottom and a cone-shaped top traditionally made of glazed or painted clay. It is the perfect portable oven, which is why it is the cooking vessel of choice for Morocco’s nomadic tribes. Tagines are named after the vessel in which they are cooked: the tagine! Chicken and golden raisin tagine

Not all tagine recipes are the same, but they will mostly have some important things in common:

  • They will be a braised mixture of meats and vegetables, like a stew
  • They will be flavorful from ingredients like ginger, cumin, and cinnamon
  • They will often be studded with dried fruits, briny olives, and preserved lemons (which are lemons packed in salt and left to cure)
  • They are commonly served alongside couscous, which is a very tiny semolina pasta that is quickly cooked by steaming. Some people think couscous is a grain, like quinoa, but it’s not!

Tagines are braised dishes, which is the same type of cooking we use for stews and pot roast. In braising, meat or other ingredients are slowly cooked submerged in liquid until they are flavorful and tender. The tagine is the perfect cooking vessel for this, because it creates an even cooking temperature all around the food and helps to keep in the liquid we need to keep the meat from getting dry.

If you don’t have a tagine, a Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid will serve the same purpose, and even in Moroccan, many tagines are cooked using modern cookware.

We think you’ll love the flavors in a traditional tagine (try our favorite Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Golden Raisins), but just like every recipe, you can change it to suit your tastes. If olives or raisins aren’t for you, leave them out and serve them on the side. Experiment with different meats, like lamb or beef, and add whatever vegetables are your favorites, like cauliflower or butternut squash.