You’ve booked your flight to Morocco and have your souvenir list started. A Moroccan tagine is of course on the shortlist. If you want to purchase a handmade clay tagine then you’re coming to the right place. Buying a tagine in Morocco is a great way to learn about the culture as well as add a new piece of cookware to your kitchen arsenal.
If you are looking for a cast iron tagine or one of the more fancy versions of tagines sold, then you might be better off to purchase one outside Morocco. These types of tagines are rarely found or used in Morocco.
If however clay tagines are what you are in search of, you will have many options available. The hardest part might be coming home with only one tagine. But, that’s ok, buy two or three!
Below, I’ll share some tips to keep in mind for your shopping adventures in Morocco.
Top Tips for Tagine Shopping in Morocco
Make Sure to Bargain
As with most things in Morocco, bargaining is important. Unless it very explicitly says, and even if it does it doesn’t hurt to ask, you should bargain. In most cases this will be accepted and you start by reducing the asking price by at least 50%.
Do not worry about offending someone, the worst outcome will be that they do not accept your offer and you walk away to find another tagine.
Difference Between Decorative vs. Plain Tagines
You will see very quickly that there are two different kinds of tagines; plain and decorated. The decorated tagines might be a single color, or they may be hand-painted. This is important to know. If you want a tagine to cook directly in, buying a plain tagine is the way to go. Decorative tagines can be served in but should not be cooked in.
You can also get an easy swab lead test to check a tagine before you buy it. I’m suggesting a few below. Bring them with and try before you buy – or use them on tagines you already have.
PRO-LAB Lead Surface Do It Yourself DIY Test Kit LS104VANSFUL Lead Test Kit 30 Counts Swabs Rapid Test kit, Results in 30 Seconds, Lead Testing Kits for Home Use, for All Painted Surfaces,Ceramics, Dishes, Metal, Wood (30)
Glazed Tagines vs Unglazed Tagines
Besides aesthetics the biggest decision to make for a clay tagine is whether you’ll go with a glazed tajine or an unglazed tagine. Both will give you similar results however many people prefer the unglazed option. An unglazed tagine will bring out more flavor, especially once it’s been used and seasoned having been cooked in many times.
A glazed tagine is more forgiving. Things don’t stick as much and if they do the tagine is far easier to clean. This is a good option if you want to cook with clay but you’re not super confident. Of course you can always have both a glazed and unglazed tajine!
These are just some examples of what you would want to be looking for between a glazed and unglazed tagine. It will be very clear when you’re looking at them what the difference is.
The Top and Bottom Fits Together
This might seem like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how often this comes up. When you’re looking at your tagine you want to ensure that the bottom and the top fit together well. The top should come to the edge of the bottom lip and there should not be a gap anywhere.
Twist the lid a little to make sure that it sits evenly and doesn’t have any strange edges or is uneven. Set it down on the ground or a table to make sure that it all sits evenly – it might seem fine in your hand but when set flat may be different.
There are No Cracks
Another thing that may go without saying but really look to see that there are no cracks already starting in your tagine. Even a small crack can (and will) spider when you use it. The base is the most important part of the tagine to look for cracks.
You might also want to do a little sound check the base by rapping on it with your fist. Give it a little knock and listen. It should have a clear sound. A long pinging noise generally means there may be a crack.
How Much Should a Tagine Cost in Morocco?
This is something everyone wants to know and is in general a great question. I have heard of many cases where people have overpaid not just by a little but a lot. I fully support artisans and vendors making a living, however, I do not agree with people being taken advantage of. At the end of the day, if you feel the price you’ve paid is fair, then it is.
|Glazed Tagine||Unglazed Tagine|
Price of a Decorated Tagine
This is a lot harder to put a price on because there are many variables. Two big differences is that there are decorated tagines that are just painted and fired, and there are some who have designs cut into the cone part of the tagine and are then fired.
A small decorated tagine can cost around 50dh while the largest size is 200-250dh. The small decorative tagines that would fit in the palm of your hand average 20-25dh while the ones that are in threes are about the same.
When Buying a Tagine Prices are Relative
Like with many things in Morocco the price of things is always relative. I provided prices that I know are paid on a daily basis. However, you might find that costs are a bit higher. This can be because of where you are buying, the decoration level, and any number of other factors. A few key things to remember;
- a salesperson will not sell a product unless they are making a profit. What that profit needs to be, depends on their own business reasons.
- When you bargain keep this in mind. You can always walk away or look for the product elsewhere.
- There is no actual set price for anything, there are always variables.
- Keep in mind the space you have to transport the tagine and consider how it’s wrapped, or not wrapped after purchase.
How to Transport Your Moroccan Tagine
Once you’ve chosen and purchased a tagine, how do you get it home? It’s something you should consider before you buy it! In most cases, it’s truly not worth the cost to have a tagine shipped so unless you have space in your luggage you might reconsider and buy one once you’re home.
Most shops will wrap up your tagine with newspaper and tape. I have had mixed results with this. Generally what I do is wrap the bottom of the tagine with my clothes and then place it in my suitcase. With the top – the part that is more likely to break, I either use bubble wrap (it’s a great, lightweight thing you can pack!) and then stuff the inside of the cone with clothes and then wrap the outside with clothes too.
I try to put the two pieces into my suitcase in different areas of the bag so that they don’t bump into each other in transit and crack. If you have two bags, putting them in separate bags would also be a good idea. Make sure that you can get the lid especially as stable as possible so that it’s not being jostled around when the luggage is handled.
I hope that these tips help you and your tagine shopping when you’re in Morocco!