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Lemon tagine with eggplant

Tagine is one of Morocco's most famous dishes. I had it at least once a day during my trip, which could have been a bit monotonous, had it not been for the fact that there are tons of different varieties.

The name 'tagine' refers to both the dish and the earthenware pot in which it's cooked. The conical shape of the lid is designed to promote the return of all condensation to the bottom. When the water is turned into vapour during cooking, it condenses on the inside of the lid and runs down to the edges of the bottom, and not dripping on the ingredients. Because of that, they bake and brown instead of being cooked in liquid.

If you don't have a tagine, you can still make this recipe in any ovenproof dish with a lid. The effect won't be exactly the same, but it will be delicious. Tagine is traditionally cooked over hot charcoal, but we can use a stovetop or an oven. We'll cook it over low heat - slow cooking allows the tomato sauce to caramelize and reach a full flavour.

Recipe: Lemon tagine with eggplant

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • one onion
  • 2 garlic clove
  • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3-4 hot peppers
  • 2 tso ras el hanout
  • 2 tsp harrisa
  • one piece cinnamon
  • 5-6 cardamom seeds
  • one eggplant
  • 3-4 preserved lemons
  • juice of one lemon
  • tbsp honey
  • 250 ml tomato passata
Method
  • Preheat the oven to 160C.
  • Slice onion and garlic, cut the eggplant into large chunks.
  • Heat one tbsp of coconut oil in your tagging (or, if you don’t have one, any other ovenproof dish).
  • Brown the eggplant chunks so that they’re golden on all sides, but not yet soft in the middle. Set aside.
  • Heat another spoon of coconut oil.
  • Brown onion and garlic over medium heat.
  • Add ras el hanout, harissa and whole chilli peppers.
  • Fry for 1-2 minutes, stirring.
  • Add remaining ingredients: browned eggplant, tomato passata, preserved onions (cut into halves or quarters), lemon juice, honey, cinnamon and cardamom.
  • Cover and place in the oven.
  • Cook in the oven for 2 - 2,5 hours, gently stirring every 45 minutes.
  • Serve with bread or couscous.