Friday, 15 February 2013

Family visits and Tagines

Sorry I've not posted for a while. I've had trouble uploading photos on blogger and a blog without photos is like a night without stars! 

By Brother and Leah have been visiting us at the moment. Here they are at The Orange Grove overlooking the Nile.

Leah loves to cook and wanted some clay tagines to take back home. Egyptian Tagines look different to the Moroccan style Tagines that you may have seen before with a conical lid. In fact here is one:-

This is what a Moroccan Tagine looks like although this one was handmade in Egypt and is just for decorative purposes.

An Egyptian Tagine is a unglazed clay pot with no lid so you need to put foil over the top to retain the moisture and to stop the dish getting too dry.

 When you get them they are unglazed or "unseasoned" and the clay comes off in your hands like a red dust.

Me demonstrating the red dust from the clay :-D

 To get them to the state where you can use them for cooking is quite a lengthly process but worth it as apparently the clay imparts flavour into the tagine.

 If you've ever been to local restaurants in Luxor and eaten a Tagine, you'll know how lovely and authentic it is when the waiter brings a sizzling tagine direct to the table still in the clay pot. They are relatively cheap to buy but as I mentioned, they take a little while to season. I'd done it years ago when we had a home in my husbands village although we did it in a mudbrick oven which is how it would have been done no doubt for hundreds if not thousands of years.

For those of you, like me without a Mudbrick oven, here is how you can season an Egyptian Tagine using a conventional oven ready for use.

First of all you need to soak the tagines in cold water for a couple of hours, if not overnight.
Here is one of the tagines having a good soak.

Once soaked you need to removed, wash, dry and paint with Molasses (like a syrup that comes from the Sugar cane). Sometimes men come round with their donkeys and carts selling Molasses for 2/3LE but I got mine from KZ Supermarket which was more pricey at 7LE.

Here is me painting the tagine with Molasses

Then put in the oven at around 150 degrees, don't preheat it as they crack if they are exposed to rapid temperature change. Leave in all day, the molasses will bubble away and probably splatter all over your oven making you wish you had never blooming well attempted it (I know I did).

When the pot looks like it has soaked in all the Molasses, remove carefully from oven (again silently cursing the state of your oven) and place in warm soapy water. Rub off the excess Molasses that will be black, crusty and a bit grim looking by now. They will then look like this.

Then brush them with oil and there you have it - Egyptian Tagines ready to use!

The vegetables in Luxor this time of year are great but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Mr RT has a "thing" about buying cauliflowers the size of 10 heads, kilos of broccoli or humungous Butternut Squash's. He recently picked up this beauty:-

It weighed in at about 8kilos and I spent about two weeks trying to find things to do with it. I've made litres of Butternut Squash and Rosemary soup, Jamie Oliver's BNS Muffins (tastes like carrot cake), Steamed BNS, BNS Ravioli with sage butter (posh I know but was getting desperate by this point), roasted BNS chips.. the list could go on.

Anyway, bye for now


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