Tagines are the cooking vessels of choice in Morocco. The word tagine has also come to refer to anything cooked in a tagine, so one sees listed on menus “chicken tagine with preserved lemon” or “lamb tagine with prunes” (both favorites).
Different regions in Morocco have different styles of tagines, but all tagines produce the kind of wonderfully blended flavors one gets from moist, low-heat cooking. The image above is of a pile tagines in a market in Morocco. These are all cooking tagines. There are fancier serving tagines, which are fancier but not suited to cooking. I learned how to cook in a tagine while in Morocco, but really, the only secrets are to make sure you season your tagine (which involves soaking, oiling, and heating), use a heat defuser between the tagine and your stove burner, and pick a recipe that sounds good. As an fyi, the hole in the top of the tagine is a spoon rest—stick the handle of the spoon in the hole, and it’s just deep enough to keep the spoon from falling out. Given the number of places I saw tagines simmering away where there was no cooking surface on which to lay a spoon, this is tremendously practical.
I mention all this because I discovered a great place to buy tagines. Granted, they might have been cheaper while I was in Morocco, but they’re heavy, bulky, and can break, so trying to carry one home is just not one of the things I was willing to consider. But I still wanted one—and I was fortunate enough to discover tagines.com. They are lovely to do business with, ship the tagine carefully packaged so it arrives in one piece, and even offer a couple of recipes. If you don’t feel like making your own preserved lemons, or didn’t bring two pounds of ras el hanout home from a trip, they offer these key ingredients on the site as well. The image below is of my tagine, the standard-size Rifi cooking tagine. Lots of fun, if you want to try cooking Moroccan food the way Moroccans do.