A few years ago, Jamie Oliver dared to put up his take on jollof rice, the traditional, signature West Africa dish, on his website.
The recipe went unnoticed then, suddenly got the attention of, and drew the ire of West Africans.
Jamie’s crime? He deflected from the traditional recipe of jollof rice, which consists of rice and a blend of bell peppers, tomatoes and chilli, and made the dish using lemon, coriander and ‘lemons on the vine.’
I understood what he was doing, I love food and it’s a given that I will interpret any dish my way to make it my own. I don’t claim ownership of the food; I just give my interpretation of it. And since I specialise in ‘dairy-free (specifically, cow dairy-free), wheat-free West African food with a Middle East vibe’, then it goes without saying a lot of my meals are either ‘deconstructed’ or ‘butchered’ versions of the real thing, depending on which side of the fence you’re on.
And it is in that spirit of let-food-be-food that I bring you my ‘deconstructed tagine’. Traditionalists, sharpen your claws 😉
A bit of history
Tagine is a popular dish in North Africa and is named after the earthenware pot it is cooked in. The food that is cooked in the pot is also referred to as tagine.
If you can get the tagine pot to cook your tagine in, fine. If not, just use a casserole dish or something. I know some people will not agree with me, but life as we know it as, won’t end if you cooked tagine in a casserole dish.
- A clove of garlic
- Rice or potatoes
- One small lemon
- Optional: aubergine
- Half a packet of frozen mixed vegetables
- About two handfuls of goat meat (personally, I hate lamb and don’t like chicken, much).
Preparation: 10 minutes
- Wash and clean the meat
- Ensure the meat is as drained of all juices/water as it can be possibly be
- Season with salt, chopped onions, garlic, ginger and coriander (and chilli, if that’s how you roll)
- Add about 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil
- Cover and let it marinate overnight in the fridge
If you would rather cook the dish immediately, after adding the olive oil, follow the instructions below:
- Heat up your casserole dish or tagine (make sure it’s really hot – do not add any oil to the marinated meat!)
- When it’s suitably hot, empty the marinated meat into the dish, still on high heat
- Let the meat brown
- When it’s browned, turn the heat right down, all the way to the lowest temperature, then cover
- Stir intermittently
- Add a sprinkling of water to the meat if needed, enough to keep it cooking nicely and slowly – you don’t want it drowning in water
- When the meat is just about tender, sprinkle some cinnamon
- Add the vegetables
- Serve with potatoes or rice.
Do I make a mean deconstructed tagine or what? Traditionalists, have a go. You know you want to!
Nigerians: it is NOT fried rice!