Tuesday, July 03, 2012

RPI: Moroccan Goat & Date Tagine

The Lowdown:

What the heckers is a tagine, is probaby what you are thinking right now. I was thinking the same thing about two weeks ago. I was also thinking the same thing 4 years ago when I went into a Moroccan restaurant (that sadly closed down recently). If it weren't for the lovely device known as the interweb I would still have no idea. After all, books are archaic and require actual work to read. Right. A tagine (tajine) is a term commonly used when describing an assortment of Moroccan dishes that are cooked in, you guessed it, a tagine. It is a earthenware piece of cookware that is shaped like a cone or a te-pee set on top of a round, thick-brimmed base. The shape was designed so that all of the condensation from the steam would trickle back down into the base, where the main components of the meal are. When finished, the top of the tagine is removed for serving. Of course, now we will most likely use a modern pot or cast iron sauce pan.  Yes, this concludes the history lesson.

It's just like green eggs and ham, said Sam I Am. He was a bit skeptical at first, but when he finally gave in it was heaven. I felt the same way. I always do when I'm trying something new. Success and failure never enter my mind while cooking. That is a minor consequence. I mainly think about the possibilities. Now, I will eat tagine in a house, I will eat tagine with a mouse; I will eat tagine with a fox, I will eat tagine in a box. Enough of that, Dr. Suess has left the building folks.

I feel that this is one dish where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The beauty of this dish comes from the simplicity. Simplicity is often one of my key goals. To do this, I always try to understand the basic ingredients, so that their flavours have a huge x-rated orgy and produce flavourful, robust dishes. Elegance is highly over-rated. Flavour orgies are in.

After doing a bit of research, Moroccan cuisine has four major spices (pepper, salt, ginger, and turmeric). Freshness and patience is the key. A bit of luck goes a long way as well. While hunting and foraging today, I found fresh green peppercorns, which added a beautifully robust flavour to the overall sensation of this dish. Seriously, when was the last time you saw fresh peppercorns?

I am a spice whore. I am a flavour monger. I am a heat trollop. But this dish, despite being mind-blowingly simple, exceeded all my expectations. I even resisted the urge to throw cayenne pepper in just to add a bit of heat ( this was really rare for me). Despite this, as I have said before, I enjoyed this dish immensely. Add the honey dates and almonds on top and you are entering a whole new realm of awesomeness.

The Playlist:

1 kg Goat meat (can substitute lamb or beef)
2 medium Onions, minced
5 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tomato, chopped (optional)
2 Carrots, chopped (optional)
2 sticks, Cinnamon
2 tbsp Ginger, minced
2 tbsp Green peppercorns, fresh
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp White pepper (optional)
1/4 cup Canola oil
2 1/2 cups Water
1 hand full Cilantro sprigs, tied

2 cups Dates, pitted
3 tbsp Honey
3 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 cup Almonds, fried 

The Skinny:
  1. In large pot: brown goat meat with the onion, oil, and spices (crush half of the green peppercorns in a mortar and pestle to release their fragrance). Add water and cilantro and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cover with a tight fitting lid and allow to cook for 1 hour.
  2. Remove 1/2 cup of the simmering liquid and set aside. Add more water if it appears that the simmering liquid is drying out. Cover and allow to cook for 1 hour longer. The meat should be "fall off the bone" tender when it is finished.
  3. In small sauce pan: add the 1/2 cup simmering liquid, dates, honey, and cinnamon and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid from the tagine and simmer down the liquid until it is the desired consitency.
  5. Serve warm, and add dates and almonds as per individual taste.

Featured on: 33 Shades of Green, Premeditated Leftovers, Food Renegade, Chef in Training,

Stay Rad -h


  1. funny we did a chicken tagine on the 16th of june - great minds!

    1. I don't think I would have really thought of Moroccan if the ingredient weren't goat. But it's in the mind now, so I'll have to keep trying it.


  2. You're speaking my language! I cook North African food at least every other day. Your recipe looks delicious. :)

    1. I will definitely have to check out your recipe stash then, because I need more of these meals for sure. Any favourites?


    2. Your dish looks fantastic!

      When I saw tagine I immediately thought of Elsa. She has totally sold me on cooking in a tagine - though I sometimes cheat and use it to make American food.

    3. I know! I actually just went to her site and made a mental note of all of her N.African dishes that I want to try. Love the flavour.


  3. Hi,
    Interesting Moroccan preparation...good to know about 'Tajine', it must be similar to 'Handi' used to cook 'Biryani' in India.
    First time into your space and glad to follow you!
    Inviting you to mine,

    1. I will be stopping by for sure! Love trying new recipes out, so I may have to give a few of yours a try.