If you have ever ordered a traditional Moroccan tagine dish in a restaurant, half the fun is having the tagine come out with a beautiful Mediterranean diet recipe uncovered in front of your eyes. As the tagine top is removed, a large cloud of steam billows into the air and the unique smells of moroccan cuisine enters the nostrils. Most tagines start with meat, chicken, or fish and are slowly cooked with lemons, vegetables, onions and olives and are flavored with some combination of cumin, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, turmeric, parsley, or cilantro. Because of the low and slow cooking, the spiced meats melt in your mouth and the vegetables are flavorful and tender.
When I first began cooking foods from the Mediterranean Diet I was afraid to try a tagine dish because I didn’t actually own a tagine. That all changed when I recently talked with my friend Hafid Assab, who owns the Mosaic Cafe, a Moroccan restaurant in my hometown of Northampton, MA. Hafid, who was born in Morocco and has been cooking Moroccan food his whole life, told me that instead of a tagine, I could try using a Dutch oven or slow cooker. He was nice enough to let me use his recipe for tagine kefta which you will find below.
My first experiment using his recipe with my cast iron Dutch oven ended up too liquidy. He had told me to use two cups of water. I then tried it with 1 cup of water and had the same problem. Finally, I made the recipe with no water at all and this worked perfectly. Then I tried to make it in the crock pot (slow cooker) and found this to work well also.
The bottom line is that for overall taste, the Dutch oven or Crock pot works just fine for most tagine recipes. You may have to play with the liquid levels a bit, but this is an easy fix. Even the versions that seemed too liquidy were still delicious soups.
Here is Hafid’s Kefta Tagine recipe without the water added!.