Can you say tagine? Culinary Journey in Morocco begins!

Chefs Joanne Weir and Bahija like what the see!

Chefs Joanne Weir and Bahija like what the see!

If you ask anyone about Moroccan cooking — whether they live in Morocco or somewhere around the world — the person is bound to mention tagine.  A tagine is a cooking vessel with a sort of upside-down-funnel-shaped top that fits tightly on a deep saucer.  It holds an assortment of meats and vegetables, allowing the steam generated from the cooking to rise and caress those meats and veggies in a blending way.  But the word tagine is also used alone to indicate what’s for dinner — as in, “We’re having tagine tonight.” We found tagine dishes in almost every restaurant and riad we visited. So, it’s no wonder that Chef Joanne Weir and Chef Bahija of Jnane Tamsna chose tagine cooking for our first adventure in preparing Moroccan cuisine.

In a charming outdoor “room” with twig lattice walls and covered top, 15 participants in Joane Weir’s Culinary Journey in Morocco 2018 took their seats, picked up their knives and went to work. And I was proud to be among them!

Ready to make chicken tagine in the utdoor classroom at Jnane Tamsna

Ready to make chicken tagine in the utdoor classroom at Jnane Tamsna

The ever-vigilant Jnane Tamsna staff had started the fires of individual cookers on outdoor tables, so we were ready to begin.

Individual cookers for tagine cooking class.

Individual cookers for tagine cooking class.

There are some basics with cooking Chicken Tagine, our menu item for Day 1.  Although there are no required ingredients, we were told that most tagine dishes include a meat like chicken or lamb, spices (mostly salt, pepper, turmeric and saffron), diced red onion, and extra virgin olive oil.  For our chicken tagines, we first chopped red onion and laid it on the bottom of the tagine. Step two involved seasoning the chicken pieces with spices and herbs in various amounts.

Layers of chopped onion, seasoned chicken and spices in a pottery tagine.

Layers of chopped onion, seasoned chicken and spices in a pottery tagine.

Joanne and Bahija explained the types of spices used in Morocco, adding suggestions on how much or how little to use.  But even with their suggestions, we had the leeway to choose our own spices in the amounts we found most satisfying.  (I found that to be true for most of what we cooked during our Culinary Journey: we had the freedom to make the dishes our own.) For my chicken tagine, I went a bit heavy with salt and pepper, lighter on turmeric.  And then I slathered my chicken with cilantro and garlic.  Others ventured out with a blend of spices called ras el hanout.

Vegetables are piled high atop seasoned chicken and chopped onion.

Vegetables are piled high atop seasoned chicken and chopped onion. Do you see little threads of saffron on top?

Next, we added vegetables or fruits to our liking. For a chicken tagine heavy on vegetables, Chef Bahija and Chef Joanne laid out quite the variety:   tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, peppers, fava beans, and olives.  But if you wanted a sweeter tagine, there was something for you as well: apricots, apples, almonds, prunes, dates, raisins and pear.  As I said, your tagine was yours — from the choices you made to how to finely you chopped ingredients and even how you arranged it all into a pile.

And what fun it was! Some even became a bit giddy at this “doable dish.”  After all, the mystique of cooking tagine was over.  This was one dish we could make at home!

The mother-daughter team of Susan Gaither and Kendra Hodder from California had fun showing off their tagines!

The mother-daughter team of Susan Gaither and Kendra Hodder from California had fun showing off their tagines!

After layering the chosen veggies or sweets atop our chicken, we carried our tagines to the cooking table where Chefs Bahija and Joanne added water to each unit.  And the waiting began.

It wasn’t long before the steam inside the pottery tagines had done its magic, converting raw ingredients into a savory or sweet treat.  When all was done, we gathered at an outdoor table to eat what we cooked, thanks to the patience and guidance of our two chefs, Bahija and Joanne.

Chefs Bahija and Joanne making cooking fun in Morocco!

Chefs Bahija and Joanne making cooking fun in Morocco!

Cooking tagine was definitely fun, but so was another custom we learned from our guides.  Every time someone took our picture, we heard this:  “Say Tagine“! (And we smiled, loving this alternative to the “Say Cheese” we’d always heard.) “Say Tagine” became our go-to command whenever we took pictures of our group.  And there was much to smile about in our Culinary Journey in Morocco! Say Tagine,  ladies!

For more information:

Many recipes are included on Chef Joanne Weir’s website.  And be sure to check out Chef Joanne’s schedule of classes at  https://www.joanneweir.com/international-culinary-journeys/ In addition, her TV series Plates and Places can be accessed on Create TV and on Vimeo.

Jnane Tamsna, a boutique hotel near Marrakech, was the site of Culinary Journey in Morocco 2018.  

See photos of Culinary Journey in Morocco 2018 on Flicker.com/photos/placeswesee

 

About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
This entry was posted in Marvelous Morocco, Morocco, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Can you say tagine? Culinary Journey in Morocco begins!

  1. Joanne Weir says:

    Finally I had a chance to read this lovely blog post about our trip to Marrakech. Wow, what a wonderful post Rusha. I felt like I was there again! I can’t tell you how much I loved having you on the thrip. You are a gift to life. I hope our paths cross again and again! XXX

    • Thanks so much for taking a look at my blog. I loved the experience, the people, Marrakech, and you! What a great learning experience in a most interesting country. Have been thinking of you and your family these past few weeks. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I hope our paths cross again, too. Stay tuned. I’ve got more pictures and ideas for blogs — just hunting for extra time!

  2. Ooh yummy I love tagine and the description of those sweet added options like pear and apricots, had my mouth watering. What a great idea to take a cooking class and take a skill home with you to recreate memories via your tastebuds in the future. Looks like great fun!

    Peta

  3. Emily Lenn says:

    It looks amazing!! So glad you ladies had fun!

  4. Looks like fun was had by all! Lovely post!

  5. This looks like it was so much fun! I’ve always wanted to go to Morocco – now I’m even more determined.

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