The tagine is a traditional Moroccan nomad cooking vessel made of glazed terra cotta and used as a portable oven. The distinctive removable conical lid remains cooler than the shallow body of the tagine, which sits on the stovetop. This allows steam to condense inside the lid, retaining moisture and keeping the meal from drying out. To prevent cracking from heat, you need to cure, or "season," your new tagine to strengthen it before you cook in it the first time. Curing also will eliminate any flavor from the terra cotta clay.

Step 1

Set the tagine's lid into place and put the tagine in the sink. Cover the pot and lid with cold water. Allow the tagine to soak for at least an hour. If your sink is not deep enough to treat both pieces at the same time, soak them separately.

Step 2

Remove the tagine from the sink and pat gently with a soft towel to remove excess water.

Step 3

Pour a little olive oil into your hand. Rub the oil into all the inner surfaces of both pieces of the tagine.

Step 4

Set the lid into place and put the tagine directly on the rack in a cold oven.

Step 5

Set the oven for 300 degrees F. Bake the tagine for two hours.

Step 6

Remove the tagine from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 7

Wash the tagine in warm, soapy water. Pat dry with a soft towel.