Why It Works
- Marinating the hen with spices and lemon juice beforehand leads to extra tender, flavorful hen.
- Utilizing a daily cooking pot as a substitute of a conventional tagine permits for a extra constant and even cooking course of that forestalls moisture from evaporating too early.
This recipe—hen m’qualli with olives and preserved lemon—is likely one of the most typical methods of making ready a m’qualli in Morocco. As a baby, I wasn’t an enormous fan of meat, however I turned enamored with this tagine due to deghmira, the flavorful sauce of decreased onions. I cherished it a lot that I used to eat it with a spoon, and my mom would put together the dish for me every time I visited from college.
Daring, candy, aromatic—but additionally bitter and bitter with the addition of olives and preserved lemon—m’qualli carries a myriad of flavors that make it a particular and comforting meal. The phrase “tagine” refers to each the earthenware pot with a conical lid in addition to the dish ready inside the pot—a meal that has grow to be one of the crucial emblematic of all Moroccan dishes. A whole lot of years in the past, North African nomads used the conical cooking vessel often called a tagine as a transportable oven, enabling them to prepare dinner any time whereas on the transfer.
The bottom of a conventional tagine is extensive and shallow, with a conical lid that sits on the bottom. Collectively, the 2 elements represent a type of clay oven that’s positioned on a low flame for cooking. Whereas the meals slowly cooks, steam rises into the cone, condenses, then drips again down into the dish, preserving the substances continually basted, moist, and tender. This cooking course of and the ensuing meal are similar to stew and braises.
The problem with utilizing tagines in the present day is they arrive in so many types. There are the normal clay tagines, however there are additionally forged iron tagines generally offered at cookware shops that match the type of the unique if not the fabric. These variations find yourself making an enormous distinction in how the tagine cooks, which makes it tough to put in writing a recipe that works throughout all codecs. For instance, a dish’s cooking time can differ lots relying on the kind of tagine used: A correct old school clay tagine will lead to a considerably longer cooking time, whereas a cast-iron pot within the form of a tagine will take only a contact longer than a daily pot. This might additionally clarify why these days, even many in Morocco put together their tagines in different dishware, together with casseroles, Dutch ovens, and even strain cookers.
Whereas the tagine is usually described as a Moroccan stew, it’s vital to notice that inside Moroccan delicacies, there are extra particular classes of tagine that point out the best way they’re ready and/or the substances used. Simply as there are a variety of curries in Thai cooking, there are additionally several types of tagines inside Moroccan delicacies.
Every kind of tagine could be ready with a selection of meat, fish, and/or greens, and could be personalized with dried fruits, preserved lemons, and olives. The only aspect that almost all tagines have in widespread is the truth that they’re all onion primarily based. Onions add taste and sweetness, however additionally they carry texture: because the onions prepare dinner, they thicken right into a jammy sauce known as deghmira.
There are 4 major classes of tagines in Morocco:
- M’qualli: That is the tagine featured within the recipe beneath, and is cooked in olive oil and seasoned with turmeric, ginger, and saffron. M’qualli has a vivid deep yellow colour and could be made savory or with a little bit of sweetness. A typical solution to put together m’qualli is to take away the meat from the pot as soon as it’s cooked, set it apart, then let the onions prepare dinner and switch into deghmira.
- M’hammer: Any such tagine is cooked in butter and seasoned generously with candy paprika and floor cumin, spices that lend it a brownish-red hue. “M’hammer” comes from “ahmar,” the Arabic phrase for purple, and refers back to the colour of the sauce and using paprika within the seasoning. The meat in m’hammer is cooked twice: first within the pot with the spices, then it’s eliminated and both shallow-fried or roasted.
- M’chermel: Any such tagine is seasoned with chermoula, a marinade of olive oil, candy paprika, floor cumin, lemon juice, cilantro, parsley, and garlic.
- Tomato tagine: Tomato-based tagines are usually cooked in olive oil and seasoned with floor cumin, paprika, and garlic. In the direction of the tip of the cooking course of, eggs and/or meatballs are added to the tomato sauce.
Whereas these 4 sorts of tagines are the most typical, there are others which are extra distinctive, resembling m’rouzia (a candy and savory lamb tagine with raisins) or ok’dra (a savory tagine with chickpeas).
What makes a tagine particular is the best way the spices remodel in the course of the cooking course of. A very powerful ingredient for this to occur correctly is time: Making a tagine means giving the spices sufficient time to slowly steep and meld. The longer a tagine cooks, the extra advanced its flavors can be.