Preparing a new tajine
To prepare a new tajine before cooking; soak overnight in water (the bathtub is a good place). Then fill with water, add same salt and a few bay leaves and a few cardamom pods. Heat over a low gas flame, until boiling to infuse the herbs into the porous terracotta. If your tajine is used regularly this won't need to be redone. Tajines can be used on the barbecue, charcoal or low gas flame but are not recommended for electric cook tops or in the oven.
Toasting whole spices in a dry pan can help to bring out the essential oils and the flavour in the spice, however be careful to taste as you add the spice to your dish as the flavour will have changed and you may need less. Toasting pre-ground spices is a little trickier and it can ruin the flavour of the spice altogether.
How to store spices
Spices will generally be at their best for up to a month, if stored correctly. Store spices in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Humidity, light and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavour more quickly.