Tag Archives: Tagine

Lamb Tagine with Sweetened Onions and a Friend to Carry It to the River


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“Dish washing in the river would have been impossible without Krisha. Many of the items to be washed were heavy brass pots, iron pans, and clay tagines which weighed well over six kilos each. (To feed everyone in a big household like the farm’s, you needed large pots and pans.) Carrying them from the kitchens to the riverbank would have been impossible without the help of Krisha and his horse-drawn cart.” from Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Fatima Mernissi

More on washing your dishes at the river:  This seems like such a fun idea except when I remember all the times I had to lug a basin full of camping dishes around…

Lamb Tagine With Sweetened Onions

3 red onions, 1, finely chopped, the other 2 cut into rings

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 tbsp turmeric

1/2 tsp ginger, peeled and grated

2 tbsp olive oil

2 lb lamb stew meat on the bone

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Ovemedium heat, saute the 1 chopped onion (reserve the rings) in olive oil.  Add the fresh herbs, garlic, turmeric, and spices.  Saute until tender.  Spread the onions so that they form a layer over the bottom of the tagine.  Place the lamb pieces snugly together to form the second layer.  Place the sliced rings of onion over the meat to form the third layer.  Lastly, sprinkle the onions with the cinnamon and sugar to form the final layer.  Carefully drizzle 1/2 cup of water down the side of the tagine so as not to rinse away your cinnamon and sugar.  Cover and cook over medium heat for five minutes.  Reduce heat and simmer until the lamb and onions are tender, about 1/5 – 2 hours.  You may want to shift the lamb meat around occasionally when cooking so it doesn’t stick, but don’t actually stir anything.  Just before you are ready to serve, check the consistency of the sauce:  because I skimped and used stew meat, my sauce was a little oily.  I siphoned off most of it and had to reduce the sauce a bit. If you use a less fatty meat, like a leg of lamb cut into pieces, you may have to add more water as you cook.  

I served mine with couscous and roasted squash and red peppers.  It was delicious.


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Seasoning Your Tagine, Sadly, Not in the River

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“The women would stand in the river in two rows. In the first row, they stood, almost fully clad, in water up to their knees. In the second row, where only the women who swam well were allowed to stand, the water reached their waists and they were often half-clad in qamis only, tucked up high into tightened belts. Their heads would be uncovered too, because they could not fight the current while worrying about the possibility of losing scarves and turbans made of precious embroidered silks. The first row would undertake the initial cleaning, scouring the pots and pans and tagines (earthenware stewpots) with tadekka, a paste made of the sand and clay from the riverbanks. Then they would roll the pots and pans through the water to the second row for another cleaning. Meanwhile, the rest of the kitchenware would be circulating cross-current, from one hand to the next in a chain-like progression, with the water rinsing away the tadekka.”  from Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Fatima Mernissi

One thing which lends itself to our young narrator’s confusion surrounding the concept of the harem is her maternal grandmother’s life on the farm.  Her grandfather does have many wives, but they seem to have much more freedom than the single wives living in her father’s household.  They get to ride horses freely and walk around the countryside.  There are no walls to hold them in.  They even, as you can see above, sometimes get to go swimming in order to make a game out of washing the harem’s many, heavy pots and pans.

I didn’t get to wash my tagine in the river, but the owner’s manual did say that I should season it by pouring in some boiled milk and letting it cool.  I guess this is to remove any earthenware reside or taste.  The milk is cooling as I type this and tomorrow you should expect a blog involving a vegetable omelette tagine.  

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Filed under Books, Cooking and Reading, Food, Literature, Moroccan Food