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This Tagine -- the word, also spelled Tajine, refers both to the cooking pot as well as a stew cooked in it -- is one of dozens of classic tagines prepared in Northern Africa, especially Morocco. The tagine consists of two parts: a round pot (traditionally clay), and a conical cover with a small hole which allows some steam to escape. A large dutch oven or something similar can also be used. Check out "the right place for Tagines": www.tagines.com.
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Also, see Senegal's classic chicken-lemon-onion dish, Poulet Yassa.
Preserved lemons are used in many recipes from Northern Africa.
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Tagine Cooking Pot Alert from The Washington Post (Wednesday, November 1, 2000, Food Section):
A tagine slaoui--a glazed, often rust-colored, round earthenware platter with a tall, conical lid--is the traditional vessel in which a Moroccan stew, or tagine, is cooked and served. They are sold at every open-air market, or souk, in the cities and towns of Morocco. In the countryside, along the road, proper tagine pots are piled at pottery workshops, ready for sale.
In the United States a traditional tagine slaoui is a bit harder to come by. And for good reason. The Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert in March on tagines manufactured and imported by Dar Si Aissa Centre Artisanal, based in Marrakesh, Morocco. Its tagines were found to contain high levels of lead that can "leach into foods in significant amounts when the glaze is improperly formulated, applied or fired."
According to an FDA spokesman, "It's prudent for consumers to purchase a lead test kit for pottery purchased in foreign countries that may contain high levels of lead. That is the best way to protect yourself." Lead test kits are available in many hardware stores.
Regardless, a perfect, Moroccan-style stew does not require a special pot. A Dutch oven, casserole dish with a lid, baking dish covered with aluminum foil or a Crock-Pot® or other slow cooker will do the job. Still, for the cook who covets a conical-covered pot, there are safe copies of the tagine design available. We found three:
LE CREUSET Glazed earthenware lid, in red, with enameled cast-iron base, 1.25-quart capacity. About $100. . . .
LE FLAMBADOU Hand-crafted glazed earthenware, available in six colors, 3-quart capacity, $126. Comes with a second lid that converts the tagine into a covered casserole. . . .
YZZA By Paris designer Pierre de Gastines: a modern, hand-thrown ceramic tagine, nearly 1 quart capacity, about $110, for the Miami design studio Yzza. . . . .
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