Tagine

Basically a spicy stew, but “tagine” sounds far more exotic. Especially if you throw around words like “couscoussier” and “Maghreb”. There’s lots of ingredients, but it’s easy to make.

 

You will need:

a large turnip

a few tomatoes

a globe artichoke

a red onion

a parsnip

a leek

garlic

olive oil or butter (or both)

a lemon

parsley or fresh coriander

a cucumber

my famous spice mix: equal parts cumin, ground coriander, paprika, a cinnamon quill (and whatever else you fancy – a little ground ginger, chilli, cardamon, etc)

Optional: diced lamb!; potatoes; pumpkin; carrots; some green olives would be nice. Or dates, if you’ve got any left.

1) If you’ve got a tagine pot, by all means use it. Otherwise, a very large pot will do fine. So, heat some fat, then add sliced onion and fry for until browned.

2) Now add garlic, then add the spices. Stir briefly, until fragrant, then add chopped tomatoes and a few cups of stock or water.

3) Now: add everything else. Just cut the leek in segments; dice the turnip and parsnip (and carrots and potatoes and whatever else); and cut the lemon into wedges (use preserved lemon if you’ve got it, but thresh is pretty much as good). For the artichoke: slice a couple of centimetres off the top florets, and off the bottom of the stem. Then peel off a layer or two of the tough outer leaves. Then, adopting a peasant-like grip of a paring knife, pare away a couple of millimetres from the fibrous stem (the inner stem is tender).

4) Add the optional extras now.

5) Let it cook very slowly and gently – 2 hours minimum. Add the herbs near the end.

When you’re eating the artichoke, use your hands to break off a leaf, then – holding the top of it – place the bottom part between your teeth and scrape out the soft part. Discard the fibrous part of the leaf. Repeat until you get down to the middle. Usually the middle part (the “choke”) is too difficult, and chokesome, but sometimes it’s edible. Most of the rest of the heart and stem is edible, and is the choicest part. The whole thing has an underlying sweetness.

Serve with couscous Рremember not to boil it, but to place it in boiled water, with some oil or butter. And fluff it up a couple of times. A little fresh salad of a tomato and a cucumber would be nice. Maybe with some toasted almonds on top. And some harissa, or just straight up fresh chilli.