Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I want a tagine for no other reason than it looks cool. There, I said it out loud. A few years ago, Williams Sonoma had a gorgeous Moroccan cookware display in their window in San Francisco's Union Square. I stood staring, transported to a land of crowded marketplaces, little cups of strong coffee, and gorgeous architecture until someone pushed daydreaming me out of the way (in their rush to Starbuck's undoubtedly).

That's when I decided if I couldn't go to Morroco, I'd do the next best thing- get a tagine. I wasn't sure what I'd use it for but I knew I was getting one. Granted, if I had one, I'm sure I'd be inspired to use it but let's be honest, it's not a product I'd purchase because I have a pressing need for it. Sadly, I have not gotten one because I recognize this. I think that's a victory in and of itself. It's also because the kitchen gadgets have now overtaken our coat closet and linen closet. So a few months ago, I made a rule. I couldn't buy a kitchen gadget until I had at least five ways to use it. Unfortunately, wearing the tagine as a hat does not count as one of the ways.

This is the best, first, and most often way I'd use my tagine. Beef Tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots (recipe at the end of the post). It's adapted from a bunch of recipes (including a Williams Sonoma one which uses lamb) tweaked by yours truly. Plus, a dear friend asked for a recipe that wouldn't take hours of prep work so I'm dedicating this to MA, who is a superstar-attorney, mother, and all-around fabulous person.

This is a super versatile recipe. In the past, I've substituted chicken and even eliminated the meat altogether (though the latter option wasn't so popular in a staunchly carnivorous household). I've also used golden raisins when I don't have dried apricots on hand. Sometimes I toast and grind my spices, sometimes (particularly after a long week of work) I use bottled spices. Will your spices taste better if you toast them whole and then grind them? Sure. But your meat will probably taste better if you raise your own cow or lamb. Cooking great food is about rocking out within your time and budgetary constraints. Over time, you will enjoy cooking such that you will make time to toast and grind your own spices. Until then, regular bottled spices from your local grocery store will do just fine.

I'm almost certain this dish tastes equally delicious made in a regular cast iron pot (like I did) or a tagine. But that don't matter because I'm counting it as one of the uses for my yet-to-be-purchased tagine. Now I only need to find four more uses!

Beef Tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots

2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 cinnamon stick
cooking oil
2 lb. beef
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ginger, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 can chickpeas
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2-1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup tomato sauce (or crushed or diced)
lemon juice

Heat oil in pot and brown beef on all sides. Transfer to a plate.

Heat more oil and cook onions in the same pot until translucent. Add ginger, garlic and spices. Add a splash of water, if necessary (you want to cook the paste 2-3 minutes until fragrant). Add beef, stock, tomato product, and cilantro to pot. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours on low heat. Add chickpeas, apricots, and lemon juice and cook for another 30 minutes.

Remove lid and bask in the delicious aroma (this step is important). Make sure your meat is tender. If not, continue cooking for a few more minutes. Do a quick taste test and adjust seasonings, if necessary. I tend to undersalt until the last step because I figure, I can add more salt but I can't really take any out.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with couscous or basmati rice. And then, pat yourself on the back for a job well done (this step is also important).


  1. I have an awesome tagine recipe from the book "Tagine" that I can send you. I made it for Craig and his partner Michael. I will send it your way. Now you only need three more recipes!

  2. BTW - the recipe looks awesome! May try it this weekend. I agree re "needing" the tagine. I got mine in Morocco at Epcot :)

  3. nope, i'm pretty sure you need a tagine and that is the only real way to do it! i have all sorts of recipes i sub a dutch oven for in lieu of buying one, but you need to bite the bullet and tell the rest of us what it's like, as i need a reason to buy one too. btw, i just discovered your kick-ass blog, somehow i missed when you started as i'm just reading the back posts now. I love it and plan on putting it in my blogroll asap. you are one of the best people i encountered during the period of madness. xoxo

  4. Kat- how bummed am I that you and Craig live in the same city and get to hang out? Must visit soon! Epcot = awesome :)

    Linda- Your blog was a definite inspiration. I thought, if Linda can cook fabulously in her evening gowns and heels (and she has a kid!), I can at least attempt to do so in my track pants (sans kid!). So good meeting you. Must hang out soon! :)

  5. This recipe looks fantastic! I am a lover of all ethnic foods and intrigued by all cultures. I will be sure to list your blog as a favorite and check back. Aren't Tagines fantastic?!
    Thanks for posting. Lisa Avant http://www.bestfrommynest.blogspot.com

  6. Lisa- thanks! I'm trying to inch my way closer to purchasing a tagine, one recipe at a time :)

  7. My husband has wanted a tagine ever since we went to Cafe Marrakesh and brings it up almost every day. Yes, I want one too, but yes it's expensive, no we wouldn't use it often and no I don't have the cabinet space. Then we found out that place closed, and then we had another amazing meal at the Moroccan restaurant in Epcot. It's his birthday this weekend so we'll see what happens...

  8. Tricia- Is the husband the owner of a shiny new tagine? :)

  9. Azmina....I agree. Kitchenware has to have multiple uses. May I make a suggestion? I was reading a cook's illustrated article on tangines a few weeks ago. A better vessel would be the Dutch oven which has the same properties as a tangine but many more uses. I use mine at least 2-3 times a week and it's also great for bread making. You don't have to get Le Creuset which is the mot expensive. I own the Lodge. It's just as great (cook's says so) and a lot less expensive.

  10. Discovered this great recipe just before Christmas, ande made it as part of our "big meal". It came out amazing! Thank you!

    We do have a Le Creuset Tagin, got it as a gift, and tired chicken tagin before but not as tasty. But for the Christmas meal we used our cast iron dutch oven instead because the Tagin is too small for the portion we needed.

    Honestly, I think the Dutch oven did as good a job as the Tagin, However, the Tagin does look very cool and has a "WOW" factor when bringing to the table. It was a very nice gift, but I would not have bought it for myself...

  11. looks declicious ii'm going to give this a try today thanks for sharing . :)


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