Miracle cooking vessel.

Posted on July 10, 2011


I adore slow cooking Middle Eastern & African tagines during Melbourne winters. It is the perfect dish to fend off the cold. Tagines are influenced from the Islamic Empire, adopted by African Nomad’s (Berber’s) in the 15th Century. The Berber people combined Middle Eastern and Spanish cooking techniques to create the tagine pot and stew. A tagine is a slow cooked stew which consists of meat, spices and vegetables. The word tagine is used both to describe the pot, but also the style of cookery. The conical pot allows water to condense at the peak of the lid, falling back into the stew. Creating incredibly tender meat, full of flavour. The earthenware pot gives a lovely organic touch to a dish.

Moroccan Tagine.

This recipe has been adapted over the years from a plethora of recipes I have used, in particular Claudia Roden’s: ‘The New Book of Middle Eastern Food’. I hope you use this recipe as a guide to create your own tagine, to adapt and pass on to friends and family. This recipe will fill you up and leave you wanting more. Once you understand how to cook with a tagine pot, the flavour combinations are endless. Get creative.

Chicken and olive Tagine with preserved lemon.

Serves four. Can be doubled.


For Marinade:
1 tsp coriander seeds.
1 small chopped chilli. Seeds removed.
1 tsp ground cumin.
1 tsp ground ginger.
2 tbsp olive oil.
1 tsp Ras el Hanout.
4 Chicken legs/or 2 large Maryland. (750g)
For the sauce:
2 Small fennel bulbs, wedged.
Handful of coriander, roots & chopped, reserve leaves to serve.
2 fresh garlic cloves, chopped finely.
1 onions wedged.
2 tbsp of parsley, finely chopped.
Extra virgin olive oil.
2 small preserved lemons, remove seeds, chop.
Handful of mixed pitted olives, halved.
Pinch of saffron.
1 tsp Ras el Hanout *
1 tsp Baharat*
250ml Chicken stock.
Salt and pepper to season.
Chilli sambal or Chilli paste to serve.
Cous- cous
250ml water
Dollop of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
*If you cannot find Ras el Hanout ot Baharat spice, use 1/2 tsp of each: cinnamon, ground clove, nutmeg and smoked paprika.


Begin this dish one day prior.

  1. Dry roast marinade spices till fragrant and grind in a mortar and pestle.
  2. Mix in a bowl with olive oil chilli and ginger. Massage into chicken. Leave covered overnight or at least 4 hours.
  3. Heat oil in tagine on medium heat with lid on till hot. Keep heat consistant.
  4. Remove lid, fry chicken and leftover marinade till golden.
  5. Add onions, garlic & fennel, cook till golden.
  6. Add chopped coriander roots, parsley, harissa, baharat, pepper, olives & preserved lemons.
  7. Mix pinch of saffron with stock. Add to tagine. Mix well.
  8. Cover tagine, turn heat to low & heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  9. To make cous cous, heat water and olive oil till boiling. Remove from heat.
  10. Add cous cous and mix, let it swell, then add a dollop of butter. Mix till light yet creamy.
  11. Serve tagine on top of cous cous with reserved coriander and chilli sambal on side.

Most of all, take time to enjoy this meal with good friends and a glass of citrusy white wine.

How to season a tagine:

  1. Submerge in water for 24 hours. Dry well.
  2. Add a dollop of olive oil, 1/2 cup water, 2 onions roughly chopped, 2 garlic cloves, salt and pepper & cook for 10 minutes on low heat.
  3. Discard food, then wash, wipe clean & rub with olive oil. Omit olive oil rub if tagine is glazed.
  4. Leave to rest. Try to cook regularily with the tagine, to maintain its flavour. Remember the more you cook with it the better the flavour.
  5. Soak tagine before cooking each time, unless you are cooking with the tagine daily.


  • If you are using an electric stove, buy a heat diffuser from a good kitchen store. They cost under ten dollars, and will save you from a”dreaded” cracked clay pot.
  • Use a consistent heat source. Wait to heat the tagine, and keep at a low-medium heat, learn to cook slowly!
  • Like a wok, avoid over cleaning a tagine, with harsh chemicals. A natural cleaner will do the job.
  • Do not overfill the tagine with water. My recipe is based on a large shallow tagine, if you have a small tagine, omit some of the stock.
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