Moroccan tagine pots, shallow, earthenware pots with high cone-shaped tops, glazed on only one side, are great for cooking meat stews. As the stew simmers, steam rises into the cone. The unglazed interior of the conical top absorbs some of the excess moisture, ensuring a steady, slow reduction of liquid below.
This dish of chunks of lamb slowly simmered with cinnamon, ginger, and saffron, called quamamma, may look like a lot of work, but it is worth it, because it is one of the very best tagines in the Moroccan repertoire.
You begin this tagine “cold,” which is to say that the lamb is not browned, but rather, gently heated along with the spices and other ingredients, which allows the flavors to fully penetrate the meat.
Actually, in traditional Moroccan cookery, very few tagines began with browning. Instead the meat is usually browned at the end by covering the bottom half of the tagine with a flat ceramic plate, then piling hot coals on top. I simply run the meat under the broiler.
The onions create a thick, soft sauce. Note that two preparations of onions are used: grated, which disintegrate and thicken the sauce; and sliced, which impart a rich silky texture.
The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert. Copyright © 2003 by Paula Wolfert. Photographs copyright © by Christopher Hirsheimer. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.