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How to use a tajine?

Thinking about buying a tagine? We have them in all sorts of sizes and types. From one- or two-person ceramic pots, to bigger ones you can use to make stew for the whole family! Not sure whether to go for more of a traditional ceramic, or cast iron tagine? Don't worry, we'll lay out all the differences for you here.

What is a tagine?

A tagine is a North-African stew pot, made up of a round, hollow base upon which sits a high, cone-shaped cover. They were originally made from earthenware, but these days are available in other materials. You can make mouth-watering stews with chicken, meat or fish and vegetables and spices. These are made by being left to simmer in the pot over a long period of time.

What kind of tagines are available?

Not every tagine is suitable to be used on an induction hob and some need to be pretreated more often than others. Cookinglife has three types of tagines on offer; the traditional unglazed earthenware tagines, glazed earthenware tagines, and cast iron tagines with an earthenware cover. Below you can find an overview to help you choose the right tagine for you.

1. The unglazed earthenware tagine

The unglazed earthenware tagine is the original tagine shape. This tagine needs a little more maintenance and is not suitable for all heat sources. In addition to the standard pre-treatment (see under the heading 'pre-treatment'), it needs to be left to soak for 1 hour before each use. An unglazed earthenware tagine is very fragile. This type of stew can therefore only be used in the oven up to 180 ° C or on a gas stove with a heat diffuser underneath. When using other heat sources you run the risk of the pot cracking.


Pros and cons
+ Tends to be cheaper than other tagines
+ Absorbs flavours
+ Traditional shape 

- Only suitable for the oven up to 180°C and on the stove with a heat diffuser
- Not suitable for searing meat
- Extremely fragile
- Needs to be soaked for 1 hour before every use

Sareva tagine
With the Sareva tagine you’ll be adding some tradition to your kitchen. These have beautiful earthy colors and are unglazed inside, meaning it absorbs the flavours of the food well. This adds to the flavour of your dishes with every use. The Sareva tagines are affordable and can be used to cook large dishes. This allows you to put a delicious stew on the table for up to 4 people.

2. The glazed earthenware tagine

The glazed earthenware tagine has a little more to offer than its unglazed counterpart. After the pre-treatment, it is immediately ready for the use. In addition, it is suitable for multiple heat sources: on a gas stove (with a heat diffuser underneath), in the oven up to 180 ° C, as well as with electric, ceramic and halogen cooking. Ideal!


Pros and cons
+ Suitable for the gas stove (with a heat diffuser), the oven up to 180°C, electric, ceramic and halogen cooking
+ Ready for use after one pre-treatment

- Only suitable for induction in combination with an induction plate
Cannot be used for searing meat

Cosy & Trendy and Emile Henry tagines
The brand Emile Henry has given the tagine a new modern look. It is a glazed earthenware tagine with the logo shining on the front. This brand has pots suitable for two to ten people. Ideal for slowly cooking large pieces of meat. Slightly smaller, but just as beautiful, are the glazed earthenware tagines from Cosy & Trendy. These come in true earth colours and some have beautiful decorations on the cone. Truly a work of art to see! The slightly smaller Cosy & Trendy tagines are ideal for preparing a meal for one or two people. This makes these pots ideal for the catering industry. In addition, these glazed earthenware tagines are also affordable. Always use the Cosy & Trendy tagines with a heat diffuser underneath!

3. The cast iron tagine

The cast iron tagine has an earthenware cover and a cast iron base, immediately noticeable by its weight. This is a lot heavier than the earthenware tagines, but the cast iron makes it suitable for all heat sources! Bear in mind that the lid is made of earthenware and that it should not be heated up too quickly. Therefore, if using the cast iron tagine in the oven, it should not be set higher than 180 ° C because of the cover.

Pros and cons
+ Suitable for all heat sources (induction included)
+ Can be used for searing meat
+ Cast iron lasts a long time
+ Only the cover needs to be pretreated

- Generally pricier than earthenware tagines
- Requires extra precaution with sudden temperature changes (cast iron base, earthenware cover)
- Heavy

Le Creuset tagine
Make your life that bit easier with a Le Creuset tagine. You can really feel the quality in this dish. The Le Creuset tagines have beautiful colours on the cone that flow from dark to light. What’s more, they can hold a lot, including large pieces of meat. Due to the cast iron base, it can be placed on any heat source, and can be used for searing meat. It gets even better; you can also use the base as an oven dish - so it’s a two-in-one product!

How does a tagine work?

Cooking with a tagine is simple because it actually does most of the work for you! The food is cooked by a combination of the cone-shaped lid and the moisture from the ingredients. This does take some time, but is more than worth the wait. This works as follows: The moisture from the food evaporates as it cooks and coats the inside of the tagine cover. Because the cover is airtight, the moisture condenses and runs back into the bowl. This ensures that your dish starts to steam and prevents it from drying out. The pottery absorbs the heat evenly and retains it to combine the flavours. This slowly cooks the food. So, with the right ingredients and some patience, you'll be the favourite at every dinner party.

How do you use a tagine?

1. Place the tagine on low heat (preferably on a hob with even heat distribution). If you are using an earthenware tagine on a gas stove, we recommend placing it on a heat diffuser first (to avoid rapid heating). Then pour in a layer of oil - a pottery tagine should never be allowed to boil dry!
2. Once the base is warm, add all the ingredients. It is best to place fish or meat at the bottom, top with the vegetables and then sprinkle with the herbs and spices. Place the ingredient that needs to be cooked longest in the centre of the dish.
3. Place the cover on top and leave to simmer

Bon appetit!

Pre-treatment

How you treat a new tagine can have a big effect on how it behaves over time. If you do not pretreat it first, you run the risk of the tagine cracking. If you are going to use a tagine for the first time, you must first soak it in water for 24 hours. Then, the inside should be greased with vegetable oil. Finally, place it on a low heat until the oil is completely absorbed. With this pre-treatment you are ensuring that the tagine absorbs the oil and will not need to be repeatedly greased. It also helps the tagine also get used to the heat. This way you prevent it from cracking immediately. With a cast iron tagine you only need to pretreat the earthenware lid.

Important! An unglazed tagine also needs to be soaked in water for 1 hour before each use.

How is a tagine best maintained?

It is best to clean the tagine by hand after cooking. To do this, use warm water, a little bit of washing-up liquid and a washing-up brush or soft sponge (no metal). An earthenware tagine is not dishwasher safe! Especially with unglazed variants you have to remember not to use too much soap, otherwise there is a chance that it will be absorbed by the pottery. Dry the tagine dish well and store it in a dry place. Make sure you put the lid on the dish at an angle, so that the remaining moisture can evaporate well. This will prevent mold growth.

Note: Do you have a tagine with a cast iron base? Make sure that you rub it with a little oil after washing, as it should never get  too dry.

General tips:

•  Be careful with sudden changes in temperature. A tagine can crack if you put it directly in the oven out of the fridge, or if taken out of the oven and put straight under a cold tap. Therefore, it is better not to preheat the oven.

•  Is your tagine not suitable for induction? This can easily be remedied by using an induction plate. Use it the tagine with the plate on the lowest setting as it will heat up very quickly via induction.

•  If using an earthenware tagine on a gas stove, we recommend placing a heat diffuser, also known as a burner plate, underneath. This prevents it from heating up too quickly and cracking.

•  Use a spatula that will not scratch, such as a wooden or silicone spatula.

• If your tagine is not suitable for searing, try first searing the meat in a regular frying pan. This gives the meat a nice brown skin and caramelizes the sugars, enhancing the flavour.

•  Instead of a plate, the tagine base can also be used as a serving dish. This looks great, the food stays nice and warm, and it also saves on washing up!

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