There is nothing quite like the warm, spicy, fruity tang of a good Moroccan Tagine.
This is an old favourite, which has been adapted and tweaked over the years, and seems to fit into all seasons – whether it’s a warm summer (like Morocco!) or a cold winter’s night, this dish fits right in and serves all occasions. If entertaining, it leaves freedom to mingle with guests; if cooking at home, it means the time can be otherwise used whilst the dish is bubbling away on the stove.
It is a very flexible dish – it can be accompanied flatbreads, rice and houmous, or simply on its own as a hearty bowl of goodness. It can also be cooked on the hob.
It doesn’t need much attention once it’s in the pot, although the odd stir does release the wonderful aromas and help to stop sticking. This tagine will happily freeze if you prefer to batch cook. Most of the ingredients and spices needed are those that any foodie will have to hand – if not, they are easily found at the local food market.
So, without further delay, welcome to the secret of this household favourite!
- Difficulty: Medium
- Time: 30 mins prep; 2hrs cooking
- Serves: 4-6
- Calories: 583 per serving (approx)
You will need:
- 1 x large saucepan
- Tagine – for serving, if required (not essential)
- 3lb (1.5kg) lamb shoulder, diced
- 250g soaked, drained chickpeas (canned will also suffice)
- 2tsp ground cinnamon
- 1tsp ground ginger
- 2tsp ground turmeric
- 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 200g dried apricots
- 100g sultanas
- 2 bay leaves (or ½tsp ground bay leaves)
- 2 pints vegetable stock
- 2 beef stock cubes
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3tbsp honey
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 100g ground almonds
- 2tbsp sesame seeds
- 2tsp cornflour (optional, for thickening)
- 1tbsp olive oil
- Fresh coriander – for dressing
- Peel and finely chop the garlic. Add to a bowl, together with the ground cinnamon, turmeric and ginger. Mix to a paste. Coat the lamb with the paste, cover and set aside.
- Add the olive oil to the pan and set to medium/high heat. Once the pan is up to temperature add the onions, cooking until softened (3-5 minutes). Remove the onions from the pan into a clean bowl and set aside for now.
- Next, Add the meat to the pan, and brown on all sides – this usually takes around 5 minutes. The meat will pick up the flavour from the onions left in the pan. The lamb should have a light golden colouring on all sides when the searing is complete.
- Deglaze the bottom of pan with a couple of tablespoons of the vegetable stock, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan and incorporate all the reside. Add further stock if required as you go.
- Once the pan is deglazed, pour in the remaining vegetable stock. Add the onions back into the pan together with the chickpeas, bay leaves (or ground bay leaves, if using), the cinnamon stick, and the beef stock cubes. Stir well.
- Bring the mix to the boil, then reduce to a medium/low heat. Add the lid and simmer for 1hr (or until the lamb is tender), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Once the lamb is tender, add in the apricots, almonds, sesame seeds, sultanas and honey. Bring back to the boil, then simmer for a further 30 minutes.
- Once the simmering period is complete, taste and season with salt and pepper according to taste preference.
- If the mixture is not as thick as desired, mix 2tsp cornflour together with 2tbsp cold water in a small dish – mix well until any lumps are gone – then add slowly to the simmering tagine, stirring all the while. After 30 seconds the mixture should start to thicken.
- Serve into warmed bowls or a clay tagine and place the coriander lightly on top.
If a vegetarian version is needed, replace the beef stock cubes with vegetable stock cubes. The lamb can also be substituted with red kidney beans – again, 250g will be more than enough. If a spicier experience is called for, a good teaspoon or two of chilli powder will serve nicely, as will the addition of a sliced red chilli, added in at step 5.