Tagine part III

Traditional lamb tagines

Lamb tagine with prunes, apricots and honey
A classic lamb tagine, sweetened with honey and fruit, is the perfect introduction to the tastes of Morocco. Traditionally, this aromatic dish is served with bread to mop up the syrupy sauce. To balance the sweetness, you could also serve a crunchy salad of finely shredded carrot, onions and cabbage or peppers, spiked with chilli.

  • 1–2 tablespoons ghee, or 1 tablespoon olive oil plus a knob of butter
  • 2 tablespoons blanched almonds
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 2–3 garlic cloves, finely chopped”
  • a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • a pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1–2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed
  • 500 g boned lamb, from the shoulder, leg or shanks, trimmed and cubed
  • 12 dried, stoned prunes, soaked for 1 hour and drained
  • 6 dried, stoned apricots, soaked for 1 hour and drained
  • 3–4 strips orange zest
  • 1–2 tablespoons dark, runny honey
  • leaves from a small bunch of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • crusty bread, to serve”

Serves 4–6

“Heat the ghee in a tagine or heavy-based casserole, stir in the almonds and cook until they turn golden. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until they begin to colour. Stir in the ginger, saffron, cinnamon sticks and coriander seeds. Toss in the lamb, making sure it is coated in the onion and spices, and sauté for 1–2 minutes.
Pour in enough water to just cover the meat and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover the tagine or casserole and simmer for about 1 hour, until the meat is tender. Add the prunes, apricots and orange zest, cover the tagine again, and simmer for a further 15–20 minutes. Stir in the honey, season with salt and pepper to taste, cover and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Make sure there is enough liquid in the pot, as you want the sauce to be syrupy and slightly caramelized, but not too dry – add a little more water if necessary.
Stir in some of the coriander and reserve the rest to sprinkle over the top of the dish. Serve

Stir in some of the coriander and reserve the rest to sprinkle over the top of the dish. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Lamb tagine with dates, almonds and pistachios

In Arab culture, dates are an age-old source of nutrition and natural sugar; nomads could survive in the desert with dates alone for nourishment. As the fruit is regarded as special, it is often added to festive grain dishes and stews. This slightly sticky date and nut tagine is a favorite at weddings and other family feasts.

  • 2–3 tablespoons ghee, or 1 tablespoon olive oil plus a knob of butter
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1–2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger”
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 kg lean lamb, from the shoulder, neck or leg, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 250 g ready-to-eat stoned dates
  • 1 tablespoon dark, runny honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • a knob of butter
  • 2–3 tablespoons blanched almonds
  • 2 tablespoons shelled pistachios
  • leaves from a small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serves 4

“Heat the ghee in a tagine or heavy-based casserole. Stir in the onions and sauté until golden brown. Stir in the turmeric, ginger and cinnamon. Toss in the meat, making sure it is coated in the spice mixture. Pour in enough water to almost cover the meat and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer gently for roughly 1½ hours.

Add the dates and stir in the honey. Cover with a lid again and simmer for another 30 minutes. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.
Heat the olive oil with the butter in a small pan. Stir in the almonds and pistachios and cook until they begin to turn golden brown.
Scatter the toasted nuts over the lamb and dates and sprinkle with the flat-leaf parsley. Serve with Plain, Buttery Couscous and a sharp, crunchy salad with preserved lemon to cut the sweetness.”

Lamb tagine with shallots and dates

Commonly known as the ‘bread of the desert’ the Arabs and the Berbers treat dates as a sacred food source as they and their ancestors have survived off them for generations, even when there has been little else to eat. They also symbolize hospitality and prosperity, so they are offered to guests and they are popped into numerous tagines and couscous dishes.”

  • “3 tablespoons ghee, or 2 tablespoons olive oil plus a knob of butter
  • 700 g lean boned lamb, from the shoulder or neck, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 12 shallots, peeled and left whole
  • 4–6 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1–2 tablespoons dark, runny honey
  • 225 g ready-to-eat stoned dates
  • 1–2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • crusty bread or Plain, Buttery Couscous”

Serves 4–6

“Heat the ghee in a tagine or heavy-based casserole. Toss in the lamb and brown it all over. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the tagine and set aside. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they begin to color.
Add the turmeric and cinnamon sticks and return the meat to the tagine. Pour in just enough water to cover the meat then bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover with the lid and simmer for about 1 hour, giving it a stir from time to time.
Stir in the honey and season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Add the dates, replace the lid, and cook for a further 25–30 minutes.
Sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and serve with crusty bread or Plain, Buttery Couscous.

“baked lamb tagine with quinces, figs, and honey
In this festive dish, a shoulder of lamb is marinated in chermoula — a delicious Moroccan herb and spice mix — and baked slowly. If you have difficulty sourcing quinces, you can use sharp green apples or pears instead.”

  • “1.5 kg shoulder of lamb on the bone
  • 1 quantity of Chermoula (see page 12.)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee, or 1 tablespoon olive oil plus a knob of butter
  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges
  • 225 g ready-to-eat prunes, stoned
  • 225 g ready-to-eat dried figs, or fresh figs, halved
  • “40 g butter
  • 2 fresh quinces, quartered and cored (keep soaked in water with a squeeze of lemon until ready to use)
  • 2–3 tablespoons orange flower water
  • 2 tablespoons dark, runny honey
  • leaves from a small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • leaves from a small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
  • Plain, Buttery Couscous”

Serves 4–6

“Cut small incisions in the shoulder of lamb with a sharp knife and rub the chermoula well into the meat. Cover and leave in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.
Heat the ghee in a tagine or heavy-based casserole, add the lamb and brown it all over. Transfer the meat to a plate. Stir the onions and any leftover chermoula into the ghee. Add the prunes and if using dried figs add them at this stage. Pour in 300 ml water and put the lamb back into the tagine. Cover with the lid and put the tagine in the oven for about 2 hours.

Towards the end of the cooking time, melt the butter in a heavy-based pan, toss in the quinces and sauté until golden brown. Remove the tagine from the oven and place the golden quince around the meat (if using fresh figs, add them at this stage). Splash the orange flower water over the lamb and drizzle the honey over the meat and the fruit. Return the tagine to the oven for a further 25–30 minutes, until the meat and the fruit. Return the tagine to the oven for a further 25–30 minutes, until the meat and fruit are nicely browned and the lamb is so tender it almost falls off the bone.”

“Sprinkle the chopped parsley and coriander over the top and serve immediately with Plain, Buttery Couscous or roasted potatoes.

Part IV