I'd originally planned to make a vegetable curry - the night before, I'd had a Spanish takeaway and ended up with half a carton of leftovers from a chickpea and spinach dish. I also had a sweet potato that needed to be eaten and a red pepper in the fridge. Then I discovered I had no curry paste in the cupboard, but I remembered I did have a jar of tagine paste. And voila, dinner!
The recipe here is for is my original dish from the other week, the photo is what I knocked up last week, with slightly different vegetables. I must say, the original looked prettier - with lots of contrasting colours - but for me tagine is as much about the flavours as the look and sometimes the tastiest flavour combinations don't necessarily look attractive.
What you need:
1 onion, roughly chopped
A clove of garlic, chopped
1 small sweet potato
2 small carrots
1/2 tin chickpeas
1 red or green pepper, deseeded and sliced
A small bunch of spinach
Tagine paste (Al'fez, from most supermarkets)
A handful of stoned olives
1 preserved lemon (can buy in most supermarkets)
Small handful fresh coriander
What to do:
Tagine is a Moroccan dish and can be made with meat too. It's also the name of the clay pot it's cooked in - a round, flattish dish with a tall, conical lid. The pot goes in the oven at a low temperature to braise slowly and the lid acts as a funnel to keep the steam circulating, ensuring the food won't dry out. A decent sauteuse will do the job well on a hob, or transfer the ingredients to a casserole once before you add the hot water and pop it into a moderate oven for an hour or two.
Olives are pretty much an essential for any kind of tagine and many recipes include preserved lemon, a staple in Moroccan cooking. Dried fruit of all sorts is often added - apricots, figs, dates and prunes all pop up regularly, making a good sweet/savoury contrast with the other ingredients - particularly if you're using meat (lamb and chicken being the most common).