Food

Tagine magic

The Tagine pot is narrow on the top and has a broad base. It makes optimum use of the heat within. Photo: special arrangement  

When cooking became a passion, post marriage and motherhood, there was one thing that I always longed to own. It was the Le Creuset range of cookware. I must have mentioned this to my mum and husband a million times over. But it wasn’t easy procuring it. For one, Le Creuset had not started selling in India and it was unthinkable to carry it from abroad because they could get easily damaged and they weighed a ton.

Le Creuset, meaning ‘the cauldron’, is a French range of cookware that is sought after by chefs and home cooks all over the world. Their range of cast iron cookware is incomparable. Le Creuset products are easily discernible. They have a colourful enamel finish on the cast iron cookware. Their signature colour is the flame orange. They have now added other colours such as blue, yellow and green. The red is my all-time favourite. Not only is it a warm Indian colour but it always enlivens a table setting. Le Creuset still uses standard sand casting methods to manufacture its cookware. The company continues it’s production in the very same foundry where it began, in the French town of Fresnoy-le-Grand. A stringent multi-step process of production is followed to ensure the end product bears the Le Creuset mark of high quality sans imperfections.

I was excited when I heard that Le Creuset was opening shop in India. “Please let it be available in a city close to Coimbatore”, was my silent prayer. Soon, news came from Bangalore that Le Creuset was OPEN! My friend Kavita called to tell me that they were offering sizeable discounts on some models of cookware. This was exactly when I was looking for a tagine pot. With fingers crossed, I asked her to check out the availability of a Le Creuset Tagine pot. Not only was it available but it was in my favourite red... I thought I had died and gone to heaven! Without delay, the Tagine pot was bought and admired on whatsapp. Not only do I now own a Le Creuset but a Tagine pot too. These can be bought online too.

The Tagine pot is like a dome. It is very narrow on the top and has a broad base. It is traditionally used in Middle Eastern cooking. It is designed in such a manner that it makes optimum use of the heat within, while cooking. The conical lid allows the return of all the condensation from the top to the bottom of the dish. This is a traditional form of slow cooking that has its origins in Africa and Arabia. Originally, these were made of clay with sometimes a light glazing. Later on, manufacturers such as Le Creuset made them using a combination of cast iron and ceramic. The cast iron base can withstand higher temperatures when compared to a clay base. This ensured the technique of browning meats and vegetables with ease before cooking it.

My Le Creuset Tagine pot with its beautiful red enamel dome and black cast iron base is an absolute treasure. It was carried from Bangalore for me by a friend and I repaid her kindness by cooking her a meal in it.

My family is quite amused at the fuss I make over it. Only I am allowed to handle it. Cast iron, for all its weight, can also crack if dropped, so I need to be careful. A tagine dish is meant to cook on an open fire, on charcoal. That’s when the flavours are said to be at their best. The recipes usually have at least 20 different ingredients or more and the end result is pure magic. The cherry red tagine is perfect for the Christmas season. It is in keeping with the seasonal hues and the warm spices and fruit that go into the tagine recipe. As the smells of cinammon, star anise, apricots, dates and oranges permeate the other ingredients in my Le Creuset Tagine pot, my home glows with the aromas of warmth and love.

Read more about food on Shanthini’s website www.pinklemontreerecipes.com


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Printable version | Jul 18, 2021 1:23:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/tagine-magic/article6704450.ece

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