Sunday, 25 May 2014

The magic world of cooking between two fires Moroccan style

There is something so sweet and romantic about this tagine. First, the delicate combination of spices and the rest of the ingredients. Second: the way in which it used to be prepared which shows how Moroccan mothers care for their families. Third: it is a historical slow-cooked dish and I love history.

Depending on the regions, this tagine can be called Kammama, Kamama, Kawarma, Qamama, Makfoul (sealed) or binareen (between two fires).

My version of Kamama tagine with shallots (I just use a tiny bit of sugar which is why it does not looked that much caramelized)

Qamama Tagine can be prepared 3 or 4 ways:
  1. With sweet onions,
  2. With sweet onions and tomatoes on top,
  3. With sweet onions and tomatoes cooked in the sauce then fished from the sauce to top the meat,
  4. With onions but with the addition of lemon juice instead of honey or sugar

My version of Kamama tagine with onions and tomatoes (I just use a tiny bit of sugar which is why it does not looked slightly caramelized)


As far as meat is concerned, you can use either red meat, chicken or partridge. Chicken will take less time to cook and can directly be cooked in a tagine unlike the red meat which might need a shortcut (see below).

Paula Wolfert’s description in “Food of Morocco”: "In the days before home ovens, Moroccan cooks placed a shallow earthenware plate over the filled tagine and then piled glowing olive wood embers on top. This “between two fires” method sealed in the moisture, turned the top crusty and brown, and infused the dish with a subtle smoky fragrance".

This sort of tagines is very delicate due to the subtle balance of flavours but also the way it's traditionally prepared: the preparation has to be in an earthenware dish and for best results it needs to be cooked over brazier. In a small apartment, I decided to settle for second best, not only that: In my version with meat I took a shortcut by cooking the meat in a pressure cooker because if red meat is used instead of chicken, this tagine can take anywhere between 3 to 4 hours on medium low heat! It’s way tastier but maybe another time. Most of working Moroccans in urban areas take that shortcut..

Quoting Ilham Slaoui’s beautiful introduction about this tagine: "In the narrow streets of the medina of Rabat, after their ritual conversation about this and that and just before leaving, women always asked each other the same question every day:  the question was: "what will make for lunch?" and the other would replied: "Oh nothing special, just Kamama for today".

Nothing special, just  "Kamama" because one should relate to the fact that this tagine is simple and not expensive so it fits all pockets. On the other hand, this is one of the only Moroccan dishes that you can’t reproduce in a casserole or an enamel pot".

Tagine Makfoul with onions, nicely charred. Photo from Cuisine Marocaine, Fattouma Benkirane.

Tagine Qamama/Kamama with tomatoes and onions with an amazing light caramelisation to finish off the dish. Photo from Choumicha's Saveurs & Cuisines du Maroc, n 25.


References used for this post.
  • Family, friends, and then books and blogs
  • Fes, vu par sa cuisine. Z.Guinaudeau. 1957. Reprinted in 2002
  • Cuisine Marocaine, Petits Pratiques Cuisine. Fettouma Benkirane Hachette 1995.
  • Food of Morocco, Paula Wolfert, 2011
  • Saveurs & Cuisines du Maroc N25, CHOUMICHA, 2005
  • Le grand livre de la Cuisine Marocaine, Fatema Hal, 2006
  • La Cuisine Marocaine, Latifa Bennani-Smires, 1993.




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