Which tagine is best?
Tagines are two-piece, slow-cooking vessels consisting of a cone-shaped top and a wide bowl of a base. Vegetables, meat and spices are layered and covered with liquid, and the whole dish cooks slowly in the oven for hours, filling your home with enticing flavors. The best tagines are the original slow-cookers, producing delicious dishes that are mostly hands-off.
The Kamsah Hand Made and Hand Painted Tagine Pot is traditional ceramic and is the best tagine to start with if you’re looking for an authentic kitchen tool.
What to know before you buy a tagine
Tagines are deeply rooted in North African cuisine but are making their way across the globe as people look for different ways to create delicious food. It helps to know a little bit more about this traditional cooking vessel before you buy.
Hole in the top vs. sealed
A sealed tagine is traditional. This keeps everything inside the cooking vessel moist as it cooks for a long period. Some updated tagines come with a hole in the top, but make sure you have plenty of liquid when you cook if you choose this style.
Size matters when you are cooking for a family. Look for a larger tagine that can make six or more servings for a crowd. You might also consider getting a larger tagine so that food is not crowded inside the pot. This allows for more liquid and prevents the tagine from cracking during baking.
Unglazed vs. glazed
Again, if you are going for a more traditional tagine style, choose an unglazed clay pot. This requires a close eye on the level of liquid as you cook, and it does need to be seasoned before its first use.
If you prefer less fuss, look for a glazed clay tagine. Or skip the clay altogether and go for cast-iron or enameled cast-iron.
How you’ll use it
Some traditional tagines are meant for cooking, while others are only for serving. If you have a tagine that is only for serving, the inside may be beautifully painted. Cooking tagines are usually plain on the inside, with the only painted design on the outside.
What to look for in a quality tagine
In the past, traditional tagines from North Africa had trace levels of lead. If you choose a clay tagine, look for any indication that it is manufactured lead-free.
A tight-fitting lid means that moisture stays in your food and does not escape into your kitchen. The lid will not seal, but it should nest securely in the base.
The best tagine for you is the one that fits your cooking style. Although clay is traditional, you can also choose tagines in other materials, including cast iron, enameled cast iron and aluminum.
How much you can expect to spend on a tagine
Workers in North Africa traditionally bring their individual lunch to work in a $5 aluminum tagine. In the U.S., expect to spend $60-$300 for a sturdier, family-sized tagine.
What is a tagine used for?
A. Tagines are a staple kitchen tool in Moroccan cuisine, but many cultures worldwide can benefit from their design. The slow, even cooking of a tagine and the subtle mineral flavors imparted by the clay mean that even the toughest cuts of meat will slowly become tender and flavorful when cooked in this pot style.
Other dishes that are delectable when cooked in a tagine include:
- Soups and stews
- Rice-based dishes
- Vegetarian dishes flavored with harissa
How do you care for a tagine?
A. The specific care instructions will vary depending on the type of tagine you have. When in doubt, consult your owner’s manual for care instructions.
If you have a clay tagine, you will need to season it before its first use. This not only makes the clay stronger and less likely to break, but it also removes a lingering taste of clay. Start by soaking your tagine in water for at least two hours. Once dry, brush both the lid and the base with olive oil and bake in a 300-degree oven for two hours. Turn off the heat and keep the oven door closed, allowing the tagine to cool completely.
To clean your clay tagine after baking, hand-wash only and allow it to dry before brushing with a thin coat of olive oil.
A cast-iron tagine without enamel needs to be seasoned as a cast iron pot would. This means brushing a neutral oil or vegetable shortening on the cast iron and baking it upside down in a 375-degree oven.
Cast iron should only be scrubbed clean with hot water and maybe a little salt if there is stuck-on food. Re-season as needed when you notice that it is no longer non-stick.
What’s the best tagine to buy?
What you need to know: This traditional tagine is handmade and hand-painted, so each is unique.
What you’ll love: This is perfect for slow cooking at low temperatures in this traditional cooking style. The base and lid are of glazed ceramic. Although it’s best used for oven cooking, you can use it on a cooktop.
What you should consider: It has to be soaked in cold water before using it for the first time. It is also temperature sensitive, so do not place a hot tagine on a cold surface.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top tagine for the money
What you need to know: This beautiful enameled tagine is a great place to start for delicious Moroccan stews.
What you’ll love: This tagine does not need to be seasoned before its first use. It’s made from heavy cast iron and enameled to be nonstick. The ceramic lid is perfect for steam basting, and this tagine is freezer safe.
What you should consider: The lid is looser than some other tagines, and cast iron is a non-traditional material.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This tagine is beautiful and designed to handle changes in temperature that other tagines can’t.
What you’ll love: This tagine is versatile and can be used on a variety of cooktops, including grills. It’s freezer safe and can go from the freezer to a hot oven. It’s oven safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and you can wash it in the dishwasher.
What you should consider: This is very expensive, and many buyers reported that the tagine arrived broken due to improper packaging.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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