Mopping up a Moroccan tajine

Mopping up a Moroccan tajine

Avatar Image
By Site Editor
View Comments

Share

Robert Carrier, one of the twentieth century’s most influential food writers, rated Moroccan cuisine as second only to that of France. Which is perhaps a little hyperbolic, for, outside the grandest kitchens, Moroccan cooking is decidedly simple, with only a half dozen or so dishes popping up on most local menus. But no matter where you are in the country, from a top restaurant to a roadside stall, there is one dish you can depend upon: the tajine.

A tajine is basically a stew. It is steam-cooked in an earthenware dish (also called a tajine) with a fancifully conical lid, and most often prepared over a charcoal fire. That means slow-cooking, with flavours locked in and meat that falls from the bone.

What goes in depends on what’s available, but a number of combinations have achieved classic and ubiquitous status: mrouzia (lamb or mutton with prunes and almonds – and lots of honey) and mqualli (chicken with olives and pickled lemons), for example. On the coast, you might be offered a fish tajine, too, frequently red snapper or swordfish. And tajines can taste almost as good with just vegetables: artichokes, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, olives, and again those pickled lemons, which you see in tall jars in every shop and market stall. The herbs and spices, too, are crucial: cinnamon, ginger, garlic and a pinch of the mysterious ras al-hanut, the “best in shop” spice selection any Moroccan stall can prepare for you.

There’s no need for a knife or fork. Tajines are served in the dish in which they are cooked, and then scooped and mopped up – using your right hand, of course – with delicious Moroccan flat bread. Perfect for sharing.

And when you’re through, don’t forget to sit back and enjoy the customary three tiny glasses of super-sweet mint tea.

A variety of tajines are available from places all over Morocco, from hole-in-the-wall eateries to upmarket restaurants.

 

For hundreds more ultimate travel experiences, get Rough Guides’ Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth