Tagine. The very word conjured up a magical mirage of Marrakesh and Casablanca, dashing Berbers and belly dancers, hookahs and saffron-laced spicy stews. I gazed at the overpriced albeit charming hand painted glazed clay artifact in the Williams Sonoma store, and in a fit of self-indulgence, bought it. My children were less impressed. “It’s a pot”, explained the world weary, newly minted college graduate. The beatnik teenager sniffed the air hopefully, “Mom bought pot?”
Online, opinions and advice flew in, fast and furious. You’ll need a heat diffuser for the stove top. Don’t place it in a preheated oven. You have to temper it first. Just use it as a serving dish. The clay will leach heavy metals. Never try to wash it until completely cooled. Intimidated, but determined, I applied the same (lack of) logic I use to call upon divine spirits to bless our laboratory research. I soaked the tagine overnight, then rubbed in some olive oil, and baked it for an hour despite a strong suspicion that the glazing on the pot made this exercise unnecessary. I sent my husband to the store for some tagine spices. Prudently, he purchased every exotic mix he could find: Harissa, Za’atar, Ras-el-hanout. The aromas were all-too familiar though: cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon. “Mom, you’ve been had”, the 14 year old wisely concluded, “It’s Garam Masala”.
Clean up was a breeze! My husband dug into his plate, saying “Mmm…all it needs is some lamb”. He was assigned dish washing duty for making mischief.
Spring has sprung in Maryland!