Tajine jelbana is a delicious traditional North African meat stew that is prepared with peas, artichoke, potatoes and carrots.
What is a tagine?
First of all, a tagine refers to a hollow earthenware baking dish covered by a conical lid. But it is also the name of the dish that is cooked in this cookware itself.
The distinctive shape of the tagine is not only decorative but has an important function. Indeed, in an arid region like the Maghreb, it meets a local need to cook food without a lot of water. It also allows to cook without much fat, which keeps most of the natural flavor of food.
The steam from meat and vegetables condenses inside the conical walls of the lid before dripping on the entire dish to moisten it. The result is a tasty dish in which food is tender and fragrant, but also slightly caramelized.
Some earthenware tagine pots are used for cooking, where others that are painted are only used for decoration.
Indeed, tahchin (چين تة) is a delicious saffron rice dish baked in an oven.
Using the word “tajine” to describe the dish has now become customary, but other names such as marqa (mar3a) or dwaz are also used to describe stews and casseroles in North Africa.
This tagine is a peas tagine, and is typically prepared with potatoes, carrots and artichoke bottoms.
The meat used for tajine jalbana can vary, but it is generally lamb or veal, although it can also include beef or chicken. It may also be finished with a white sauce prepared with egg and lemon, a similar preparation to Greek avgolemono or chorba beida.
What is the origin of peas?
Peas were one of the oldest vegetables grown in Europe and Asia, dating at least 10 000 years. What is less known is that until quite recently, it was eaten in a dry form. Yes, that is what’s called split pea! It is obtained by removing the seed coat from dried peas, that is relatively indigestible.
What is the origin of artichoke?
When it comes to artichoke, it is often mentioned that it originated in North Africa, Egypt or Ethiopia. The word for this vegetable in many European languages today actually comes from medieval Arab (الخرشوف) al khurshuuf via Spanish where it is also called alcachofa.
What is the origin of ras el hanout?
Ras el hanout is the quintessential spice blend in North African cuisine. It literally means “head of the shop” because this mixture is often found at the entrance of the markets. There are hundreds of variations for this spice blend that can contain up to 40 different spices, the most common spices include cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cumin, cloves, mace and coriander seeds. This spice mixture is used in couscous, tagines, and other dishes from the Maghreb.
When Ramadan is around the corner, the city of Maghnia becomes a destination for all Western and the Southwestern Algeria families, who come to buy spices, most of which come from Morocco, a guarantee of quality for most Algerians.
I prepared this tajine jelbana for our Friday night dinner two weeks ago. The meat was succulent and the vegetables were the most tender. Needless to say that there were no leftovers!
- 1½ lb veal stew , cut large chunks
- 1 lb shelled peas (fresh or frozen)
- 2 carrots , peeled and cut in 1-inch slices
- 2 potatoes , peeled and cut into chunks
- 4 artichoke bottoms , halved
- ½ teaspoon ras el hanout
- ⅓ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 3 cloves garlic , crushed
- 1 onion , thinly sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
In a casserole or a tagine pot, add the oil and cook the veal at medium heat for a few minutes. Add onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and continue to sauté for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add carrots, peas, spices and tomato paste. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes covered, stirring occasionally.
- Cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and artichoke bottoms, bay leaves, cilantro and parsley. Cook for at least 30 minutes until everything is fully cooked.