Preparing a new tagine
To prepare a new tagine 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 cardamom pods. Heat over a low gas flame, until boiling to infuse the herbs into the porous terracotta. If your tagine is used regularly this won't need to be redone. Tagines can be used on the barbecue, charcoal or low gas flame but are not recommended for electric cook tops or in the oven.
Using a tagine
Layer celery stalks on the base of the tagine before filling it with meats and vegetables. This acts as a trivet, lifting the meat off the base of the dish, and prevents burning.
Storing harissa paste
After making homemade harissa paste, cover with a layer of olive oil to preserve it for longer.
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.