MAKING A VESSEL
. coast the clay evenly . cut out shapes, e.g. by using a pattern to cut around . in order to connect, water and scratch the touching/overlapping surfaces (there has to be a rather big surface connecting in order that the joints stay well together during the burning) . reinforce the connection with a clay sausage inside the object if needed . even and smoothe the surface with your fingers or a tool to avoid leaking of liquids in the later use . work fast and avoid the clay to dry while you are working
[the clay we use is Sibelco PRGM 40 , but another clay would also work, as long as it has a high percentage (40%) of schamotte]
objects made from clay have to dry in a arid, preferebly warm (but not hot!) place, e.g. in the shadow on a sunny day, for at least two days until they are dry and don‘t feel cold when touched. In order to make them suitable for cooking, they are burned on a relatively low temperature of 800 °C, which makes them dense enough to be used and contain liquids, but still open porous enough to support temperature change. the temperature has to rise slowly during burning, while the colours of the clay roughly indicate its temperature: first the clay objects become black from the carbon black, which burns off at 400 ° turning to white. at approx. 800 °C the objects start to glow orange. at this point the temperature can be reduced again slowly. the whole burning takes about 24 hours.
in order to seal the surface of the clay and to thus make it more resistant and taste neutral, the clay objects can be burned in a reduction burning, where the fire is cut off from oxygen. through this burning the objects obtain their black colour. there are different techniques to blacken, we are using a pit fire, a paper-clay oven or a smoldering fire in a metal bin.
THE PIT FIRE
. make a hole in an earth or sand ground. the dimesions should be largely big enough to stack all clay objects that will be burnt inside and proportional in diameter and depth (approx. 80 x 80 cm) . make a big fire inside the burrow for about two hours to dry and heat it. when the wood is almost burned down, push it to the side and carefully place the clay objects in the middle . slowly restart the fire on the sides and take a couple of hours to slowly heat up ending with a big fire above the clay object . after roughly four hours, when all wood transformed to glowing coal, pour a large bin of saw dust or other finely chopped organic material and immediately cover with sand or earth until no smoke and flames leave the pit anymore. wait at least 12 hours, until the earth has cooled down, to dig out the clay objects
COOKING WITH CLAY
clay pots have very good characteristics for cooking. however, the clay can break when it faces sudden temperature changes. it should therefore always be heated slowly in an oven or on a fire. for some recipes the clay pot is soaked with water for a couple of hours before cooking in order to release this water and create a steam athmosphere inside the closed pot during the cooking process.
COOLING WITH CLAY
clay containers are also very good for cooling down. while storing water, for example, in a clay jug, the material slowly soaks with water and evaporates it on the outside surface. the energy consumed for evaporation, cools down the clay and thereby the liquid inside
tajine is a typical pot from the north african traditional kitchen. for stewing vegetables, fish or meat inside the tajine, it is closed with a coan shaped lid. on top of the coan is a little water container that is filled with water during cooking and cools the rising vapor inside, which condenses and runs back into the steam to make the dish juicy and spread the tastes of the spices.In morocco, the tajine is served with flatbred or couscous.
morrocans sit around the tajine and eat, using only their right hand without cutlery. they grasp a piece of vetable or meat using the flat bred and dip this ensemble in the sauce.
. 4 TBS olive oil . 4 shallots . 2 garlic toes . seasonal vegetables: aubergines, zucchini, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, fenchel, paprika, cabbage, celery, carots etc. . dried dates and apricots . coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom, fenugreek . fresh ginger and kurkuma . sea salt and black pepper . honey
soak tajine and lid with water for 1 our, then pour out. pour some oil on the bottom. start piling the sliced vegetables, dry fruits and herbs around the center in a thoughtful way. finish with some oil, honey and salt. cover with the lid and put on glowing coal for aprox. 30 – 40 minutes. serve with homemade flat-bread or couscous.