Recipe: Spicy Fish Tajine, a Recipe by Christophe Certain

Published by Thursday, January 20, 2011 Permalink 0
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by Christophe Certain

Recipe translated and adapted by Jonell Galloway

Click here for French version

Tajine or tagine, as the Berbers call it, is a oven-stewed dish baked in a heavy clay pot. It is found in North African cuisines, in particular in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya.

The name “tajine” actually refers to the clay pot in which it is cooked, because it has a very particular shape. The bottom part is flat and circular with low sides. The cover is dome-shaped and rests inside the base while baking. A tajine dish is usually painted or glazed and is quite decorative, so it can put directly on the table.

I prefer using fish filets instead of whole fish or chunks of fish so as to avoid bones. Nonetheless, it is better to buy whole fish simply because it is easier to judge how fresh the fish is. You can then either cut the filets yourself if you have the proper knives and knife skills, or ask the fishmonger to do it for you.

If you’ve bought a whole fish, you can use the leftover trimmings to make a fish fumet or broth, which you can then use in place of the water in the recipe. This will make your tajine all the tastier.

You can find spice mixes for fish in supermarkets, but we suggest you try out your own combinations.

If you are using a fatty fish with a strong flavor, such as sardines, mackerel, tuna, skipjack, herrings, or anchovies, do not mix them with other kinds of fish, because their strong flavor risks overwhelming any other fish.

If you don’t like cilantro, replace it with Italian parsley.


The amount of vegetables and other ingredients depends on the weight of fish you are using. These measurements are based on 600 grams of fish filets (ling, whiting, mackerel, tuna, skipjack, salmon, coley, sardines, swordfish, John Dory, etc.). If using more or less fish, try to use more or less the same proportions of the other ingredients.

Click here for Imperial-metric conversions.

8 to 12 medium-size potatoes, peeled
Half a head of garlic
600 g / 1.6 pounds fish, fileted
Chili powder

Mixture of spices for fish or curry

1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped
3 or 4 medium-size onions
4 to 6 tomatoes
1 lemon

Olive oil to taste
10 cl / 3.4 fluid ounces water
Salt and pepper to taste

Note: If you want to make your own mixture, use cumin powder, caraway seeds, fennel sees, curcuma, paprika, celery salt, salt and pepper.


1.    Preheat oven to mark 7 or 500° F.

2.    Carefully check that there are no bones remaining in the filets. Remove any you find.

3.    Cut potatoes into ½-cm / 1/4-in. slices.

4.    Arrange sliced potatoes in a non-stick baking dish so that they form a single layer on the bottom of the pan.

5.    Lightly salt and pepper.

6.    Peel and crush garlic cloves. Cut each clove in half and remove any sprouts. Distribute evenly over potatoes.

7.    Distribute fish filets evening over garlic and potatoes.

8.    Salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chili powder. Sprinkle with spices and cilantro.

9.   Peel onions. Slice. Distribute evenly over other ingredients in baking dish.

10.  Slice lemon, throwing away ends. Remove seeds. Distribute evenly.

11.  Slice tomatoes. Distribute evenly.

12.  Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the ingredients in the baking dish.

13.  Pour in the water.

14.  Salt and pepper lightly.

15.  Bake in preheated oven for one hour.

16. Serve immediately white hot.

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