It’s 5th day into 2011. I am still not used to typing the number of 11. Christmas is gone, so as New Year celebration. Everything is back to normal, nothing to look forward to until we plan something for this year. The weather is also back to normal. Potentially more rain than snow, which I detest. I may not sound too excited, possibly because we are in January and I have sort of been thinking about things to do and to achieve for the upcoming months. Oh, yes, I am a worrier and I think a lot! Probably too much and unnecessarily!
Weather in January never fails to make me think of hot and warm food. My memory went as far back as 2007, the first time I stepped on the land of Morocco. The sights, smells and tastes of Morocco have opened my eyes and that was when I learnt new food and culture. I have always been interested in exploring new things!
Moroccan food is one of the most sensual in the world. It appeals directly and unashamedly to the senses of smell. Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food. The souks are magical places, with smells and sights that make one feels hungry by just thinking about them. It’s amazing to know a place through its food.
Tajine or Tagine is one of the most popular Moroccan dishes. It’s named after the special pot in which it is cooked. Traditional tajine pot is formed entirely of a heavy clay, which is sometimes painted or glazed. It consists of two parts: a base unit that is flat and circular with low sides, and a large cone or dome-shaped cover that rests inside the base during cooking. The cover is so designed to promote the return of all condensation to the bottom. With the cover removed, the base can be taken to the table for serving.
When I was making Tajine, I imagined the warmth and fragrance of Morocco. Tajine is commonly eaten with couscous. You can also eat it with some good rustic bread. When I cooked tajine, I didn’t cook it in the tajine pot as I didn’t have one. I used my Le Creuset cast iron pot instead. Well, perhaps a tajine pot to be on my Christmas list of 2011! See I have started planning!
For the Lamb Tajine:
4 carrots, halved and slice lengthways
6 potatoes, halved
500g shoulder of lamb, cut into chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
0.5 tsp salt
a pinch of saffron threads
0.5 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp coriander powder
800g tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
0.5 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped flat coriander leaves
a handful of whole pitted black olives
1. Rub cut lamb with 0.5 tsp of salt and leave for 5 minutes.
2. In a pot, add 1 tbsp of oil over a medium heat. Add in saffron, ginger powder and coriander powder. Add in lamb and stir well.
3. Add 200ml of the water, reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until the meat is tender. Add in potatoes and carrots, continue to simmer under low heat for further 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a pan, put in tomatoes, garlic, a pinch of salt and paprika and simmer for 2 minutes. Continue cooking until nearly all the water has evaporated, then stir in the turmeric, cumin powder, sugar and ground black pepper.
5. Pour in the tomato mixture into the meat that is cooking in the pot. Give it a good stir. Add in chopped coriander and parsley leaves. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Sprinkle some pitted olives before serving.