maison mk’s fusion tagine © maison mk

Click here for a chicken tagine recipe

In Morocco, meals are meant to be savoured – a real experience that excites the senses and shouldn’t be rushed. That is the case for both cooking and eating one of its most traditional dishes, the tagine – or tajine.

These delicious, slow-cooked stews are generally made using chicken or lamb, and sometimes fish, as the main ingredient, with herbs, fruits, vegetables or spices added for seasoning along with olives and preserved lemon.

origins

A Moroccan word, tagine refers to both the dish and the glazed earthenware pot with a conical-shaped lid in which it is cooked. They were originally used by nomadic Berbers to cook their stews over open fires as well as for serving it.

Steam condenses on the inside of the lid, helping to preserve moisture in the food, as well as aiding infusion of the flavours. The lid can be taken off during cooking to stir the dish.

the dish

While tagines are traditionally cooked in their conical pots, any ceramic dish with a lid can be used. The meat is simmered slowly in an oven, often for several hours, so that it becomes very tender and soaks up the aromatic flavours. There are many variations on the theme, particularly with lamb.

To accompany a tagine, try mint tea, the national drink of Morocco.

the city

Marrakech is a kaleidoscope of colours, sounds and smells, with the Djemma el Fna square in the centre of the city’s old medina quarter the focal point for its food stalls, musicians and performers. Enjoy a coffee overlooking the square, haggle for bargains in labyrinthine souks, visit opulent palaces and chill out in tranquil, exotic gardens.

 

Jamie Oliver at maison mk © maison mkwhere to eat tagine in Marrakech

• maison mk (www.maisonmk.com): English-owned luxury riad serving up different takes on tagines in its Moroccan/French fusion restaurant, gastro mk, it also offers half-day cooking courses. Visit Mellah market to buy the ingredients before cooking a traditional tagine yourself in the kitchen guided by the Berber chef. Jamie Oliver filmed his Channel 4 Marrakech programme at maison mk, cooking on its roof terrace after going to the same market.

• Al Fassia (www.alfassia.com): This city-centre restaurant is one of the few in Marrakech with an a la carte menu, with dishes prepared and served exclusively by women. 

• Le Tobsil  (+212 2444 4052): Indulge yourself in this grandiose former palace in the heart of the medina, where the set-menu food is always reliable.

where to eat tagine in London

• Original Tagines restaurant in Marylebone (www.original-tagines.com): Take your pick from a dozen different tagines based on lamb, chicken, fish and vegeatables.

• Tagine restaurant in Balham (www.zizoutagine.com): Traditional Moroccan-style tagines, spiced up with optional harissa sauce. Bring your own bottle.

Marrakech Festival © Moroccan National Tourist Offic

marrakech facts

getting there: Direct flights are operated by British Airways (www.ba.com), bmi (www.flybmi.com), Royal Air Maroc (www.royalairmaroc.com) and several low-cost airlines.

stay: Stay in a traditional riad, such as maison mk, or choose from a range of hotels, the most famous being Marrakech grande dame La Mamounia (www.mamounia.com).

information: Moroccan National Tourist Office www.visitmorocco.com

Click here for a chicken tagine recipe