tajines and more tajines

Sahara camel train

Morocco is a mouthwatering destination where the flavours of Europe and the Arab world combine. Here distinctive dishes celebrate cultural traditions and as Howard Jack discovered, even a medieval method of cooking is still on most Moroccan menus…

“We had just spent 15 days on Intrepid’s Colours of Morocco trip, thoroughly enjoying the sights, the people and the food. Nearly every evening meal included a choice of various tajines – beef, lamb or fish. After two weeks you could say we were tajined out.

We flew back to London for one night before boarding our British Airways flight to Hong Kong via Riyadh. When the evening meal was announced; “Your choice this evening is Shepherds Pie or Tajine” our laughter drew many strange looks, until we explained that we had just returned from Morocco.

We still have chuckles over it, and it makes a great dinner story.”

It’s true that this renowned dish with its medieval method of cooking is as popular as ever, but your Moroccan adventure simply wouldn’t be complete without enjoying more than once this conical-lidded concoction of meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts. Here’s a recipe to whisk you to the delicious food souqs of Morocco…

Djej Msharmal – chicken tajine with lemon and olives – serves 4 people

1.5kg chicken pieces
2 chicken livers
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cloves garlic
1 small bunch coriander
1 large onion, peeled and grated
2 preserved lemons, peel rinsed and cut into strips
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon powdered saffron threads
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
handful of olives

The day before cooking, pound the salt and garlic together to make a paste. Rub the past over the chicken, then rinse.
Combine the ginger, pulp of lemon and oil. Rub it over the chicken and leave covered in the fridge to marinate overnight.
Place the chicken and the livers in a pot with the onions, saffron and coriander and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour. Remove and mash the livers, then return them to the sauce.
Add the preserved lemon peel and olives and continue to cook for around 15 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and keep warm. Reduce the sauce by boiling until a thick gravy. Remove the coriander sprigs and pour the sauce over the chicken – decorate with lemon peel and olives.

* photo by Howard Jack, Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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You did not mention that the traditional tagine was taken in its conical-lidded dish to the community oven where it slowly cooked all day along with those of the neighbours, ready to be collected hot and spicy for dinner.

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