This authentically Moroccan, slow-cooked dish is simple to create but deeply delicious thanks to a rich mix of spices and fruits. These recipes are traditionally cooked in a tagine pot, but work equally well in a standard casserole dish. Ideally finish the meal with a traditional Arabic dessert such as awamat or halva.
Moroccan Lamb Tagine
Ingredients to serve 4:
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1½ tablespoons paprika
- 1½ tablespoons ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1-1½ kg lamb, from the shoulder, cut and trimmed into 5cm chunks
- 2 onions, grated
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons argan oil
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 500ml tomato juice
- 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 100g dried apricots, halved
- 50g dates, halved
- 50g sultanas or raisins
- 80g flaked almonds
- 1 teaspoon saffron stamens, soaked in water
- 600ml lamb stock
- 1 tablespoon clear honey
- ½ a preserved lemon, skin only, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh coriander, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon mint, roughly chopped
Mix the cayenne, black pepper, paprika, turmeric and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Place the lamb chunks in a large bowl, sprinkle with half the spice mix and stir together to coat the lamb in the spices. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 150ºC. Add half of the olive and argan oils to a large casserole dish on a low heat. Add the onion and remaining spice mix to the pan and cook gently for about seven minutes, then add the garlic and cook for a further three minutes.
In the meantime, cook the lamb in a frying pan until browned on all sides, then add to the casserole dish. Use about 150ml of the tomato juice to deglaze the frying pan and add the juices to the casserole dish, along with the remaining tomato juice, chopped tomatoes, dried fruits, almonds, saffron, stock, honey and lemon. Bring to the boil, cover and cook for 2-2½ hours. Serve in a tagine pot sprinkled with the fresh herbs and accompanied by rice and some Arabic flatbread.
Choosing wine for a Lamb Tagine
Wine works particularly well with the sweet and fruity flavours of the stew, but you have to choose carefully so the grape is not overpowered by the rich flavours of the dish. Riper reds from warmer, Mediterranean Middle-East climates such as the Lebanon tend to have a secure enough aroma to hold their own.