Tagines are significant cooking vessels over all North Africa. The tagine’s shape reflects the scarcity of fuel and water in this part of the world. These precious elements need to be used frugally. Charcoal fires are almost the only form of cooking facilities that are available in the region, and the wide shallow base of the tagine can be pushed down among the coals to take full advantage of the heat.
The tall conical lid is designed for a specific purpose. It allows the smallest amount of water to be used to moisten the ingredients in the base of the tagine and the steam that is produced, when rising up the tall cool conical side of the tagine, re-condenses to trickling back down over the gently simmering food. Just a few tablespoons of water added at the beginning of a recipe will produce sufficient liquid to cook a great tagine meal.