Here's how to make tagine at home.

My friend and I sat by the window sipping mint tea, studied the menu, and ordered lamb and chicken tagines and Moroccan red wine.

Our tagines' aroma announced their arrival before we saw them. The stews were fragrant with saffron, ginger, and coriander. Together with couscous, it was an unforgettable meal.

I'd never made a tagine at home because I was intimidated. Don't be like me; make your own tagine.

Tagine is a Moroccan dish and cooking vessel. In the latter, ingredients are slow-cooked or braised in a circular base with low sides and a dome-shaped lid. Conical lid shape allows condensation to return to pot, keeping dish moist.

Clay tagines traditionally cooked over a dying fire. A kanoun (brazier) diffuses heat (I used it in the recipe below and recommend it heartily). Le Creuset makes cast-iron tagines for home ovens.

Tagines are served with couscous and can be made with vegetables, poultry, meat, or seafood. The recipe below is adapted from San Francisco-based Moroccan chef Mourad Lahlou's cookbook, Mourad

(Some recipes say plain lemons can replace preserved.) Nonsense. A lemon will add brightness and acid, but preserved lemons' salty, briny notes can't be replicated. Find them in supermarkets or Middle Eastern markets.

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