Similar to many dishes in India, the tagine or tajine is a North African dish named after the pot in which it actually cooks and is especially popular in Morocco.
The traditional tagine pot is formed entirely of heavy clay which is sometimes painted, glazed may be completely unglazed. It consists of two parts - a base which is somewhat flat and circular with low sides, and a large conical and hat-shaped lid that rests inside the base ring during cooking.
Foods like chicken & red meats benefit from the clay dish that insulates and slowly cooks and is made tender by steam. The lid, shaped like a pointed hat, allows the steam to circulate above and around the contents while cooking, promoting condensation and thus infusing the dish with flavor and tenderness.
It's traditional to pair red meat in tajines with dried fruits & nuts and in this version we've paired it with a real harvest of them - dates, apricots, raisins and a lot of sliced almonds. Another traditional element is the use of argan oil from argan which is a type of Mediterranean nut. However, having none of that in my pantry, I've used all olive oil.
What's lovely is that after hours of cooking the dates melt into the gravy, the raisins plump up, the apricots turn to mush, the almonds soften and the meat turns buttery-soft. The result is this wonderfully rich gravy infused with spices, meaty juices and just the right hint of sweetness.
If there ever was a dish that was made for kicking back on the couch on a weekend with a glass of wine, good friends for company or even a good book for that matter, this one's it. Served with a side of couscous tossed in with butter, fresh cilantro, parsley and sliced almonds, it's dinner at it's finest!
This recipe comes from British Chef Antony Worrall Thompson a.k.a 'Wozza' who is famed for his TV shows & restaurant Ménage à Trois, which was widely known as the late Princess of Wales’ favourite restaurant in London.