Moroccan Lamb Tagine

I like to make my tagines a little richer than is traditional in Morocco. This involves browning the meat, frying off the spices, reducing the sauce and cooking it all gently in the oven with the delicious Medjool dates. The flavour of this tagine only improves with time - just leave it to cool completely, then place in the fridge for up to 2 days. This also allows any excess fat to rise to the top so that it can be easily removed. Flaked almonds are sprinkled on top just before serving, as is the custom in the Middle East.

Ingredients


  • 2 tblsp hot paprika
  • 1 tblsp ground coriander
  • 1 tblsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) lamb shoulder, well trimmed and cut into 4cm (1½in) chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2.5cm (1in) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 450ml (¾ pint) tomato juice
  • 450ml (¾ pint) chicken stock
  • 2 tblsp clear honey
  • 225g (8oz) Medjool dates, cut in half and stones removed
  • 50g (2oz) toasted flaked almonds
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
  • Greek yoghurt, to garnish
  • For the Couscous:
  • 350g (12oz) couscous
  • 6 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 600ml (1 pint) chicken stock
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tblsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 tblsp chopped fresh mint
  • ½ pomegranate, seeds removed and all white pith discarded

Method

  1. Mix together the paprika, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin and pepper in a large bowl, then tip half into a small bowl and set aside. Add the lamb to the large bowl and coat in the spices. Cover with clingfilm and chill overnight, but up to 2 days is perfect.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F/gas mark 3).
  3. Place the garlic, onions and ginger into a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Heat a large heavy-based casserole dish over a medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and brown off the marinated lamb in batches. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan, then add the onion mixture and cook for a few minutes, until softened but not coloured. Stir in the reserved spice mixture and cook for another minute or so, until well combined.
  4. Pour the tomato juice and stock into the pan and then add the browned lamb with the honey, stirring to combine. Bring to the boil, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours, stirring in the dates halfway through, until the lamb is completely tender and the sauce has thickened and reduced. Season to taste.
  5. To make the couscous, place it in a large bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of oil and all the lemon juice. Mix well, ensuring that all the grains are completely coated. Heat the stock in a small pan and season generously. Pour the stock over the couscous and allow it to sit in a warm place for 6-8 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  6. To serve, stir the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil along with the herbs and pomegranate seeds into the couscous and fluff it up with a fork, then spoon into a warmed serving dish. Put the lamb tagine into a separate warmed dish and scatter over the toasted almonds and coriander leaves.
  7. Place the Greek yoghurt in a bowl with a spoon so that guests can help themselves.




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