The word tangine hits two birds with one stone. Not in the literal sense, but as in the word means two things that are closely related – 1) the dish and 2) the vessel that the dish cooks in. As the dish, tangine is a Moroccan stew which can be made of meat, vegetables or fish and is seasoned with spices, nuts and fruits. Common spices in a tangine include cayenne, pepper, cumin, tumeric, bay leaves and ginger. For nuts and fruits, sometimes you’ll find almonds, prunes, dates, apricots or olives. Below is a simple tangine dish of potatoes, olives and chicken that I got in Morocco, which came with some couscous.
The second meaning of tangine is known as the vessel that is used to cook the delicious Moroccan stew. It has a flat circular base and a conical lid. Other than being a beautifully decorative piece with a distinctive shape, the design has a purpose.
The tangine vessel holds all the ingredients in the base and while it is placed over heat, the steam rises to the dome of the lid. Unlike a traditional steamer, the shape traps the steam inside the pot and the condensation that is created drips back down into the base. Our guide said that this method keeps the meat moist and helps make it tender.
The tangine pot is made of earthenware and can be glazed, though probably more often than not. It can come in many different designs and a variety of sizes. Sometimes, mini ones are just used as a way of keeping little snacks on a table as well. It has been a while since I’ve had an authentic tangine, but I would definitely recommend exploring this interesting form of cooking or even tasting it. It has become more common around the world that even Le Cruset has a line of tangine vessels. Oh la la!