A crowd-pleasing dish that’s a taste of Morocco
This is an authentic, easy lamb tagine.
- SERVES: 4
- PREP TIME: 15 mins and overnight marinade
- COOK TIME: 2 – 3 hrs hands-off slow-cooking
- DIFFICULTY: easy
Easy lamb tagine
So, if you want to win friends and family over, this is the dish to do it.
It’s my favourite hands-off-slow-cooking-to-perfection way to cook.
And this recipe will leave you to join in all the fun while it slowly and gently works its magic.
Slow-cooking tagine style
The secret to a tagine is the cone-shaped top; it’s all about moisture.
It traps the steam and water goes back into the pot keeping your slow-cooked food deliciously moist.
And helping tenderise cheaper cuts of meat.
When you think of a tagine you think of spices.
Such as the usual suspects, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron, ginger, and cumin.
And you’ll often find recipes that include dried fruit and nuts, fresh herbs, olives and preserved lemons.
The truth is… you can cook anything you like in these stunning dishes.
But what if you don’t own a tagine?!
How to cook a Moroccan tagine dish without a tagine
You don’t have to buy a tagine to gain the benefits of this style of Moroccan cooking.
But of course, I used it as a great excuse to buy myself a tagine.
Here are 3 alternatives you can use very easily.
1. Dutch Oven
A Dutch Oven is used a lot in Mediterranean cooking.
It’s made of cast iron or ceramic and has a tight lid.
And this is the key to cooking as it keeps the moisture in.
Which creates tender, fall off the fork meat and succulent flavours.
2. Pressure cooker aka Instant Pot
You can use a pressure cooker to make a tagine.
They do the job and can do it in half the time!
3. Crock-Pot aka Slow Cooker
The Crock-Pot is an older brand than the Instant Pot.
So, these days are similar in a lot of ways.
This means that this is also great for cooking low and slow.
So, we can easily use alternative cooking dishes to make this divine easy lamb tagine.
But what does tagine actually mean?
Well, tagine is a bit like the word, casserole.
And means both the dish and the cooking method i.e. slow-cooking
(I mention this in my recipe for chorizo stew).
It’s been the core of Moroccan cuisine and culture for hundreds of years.
The tagine is made of clay or ceramic.
Which also nicely doubles up as a cooking vessel.
And a great serving dish with its fantastic conical-shaped lid that looks impressive sitting in the middle of the table.
The tagines’ origin dates to when Harun al Rashid ruled the Islamic Empire, in the late 18th century.
However, as usual, there is a bit of debate about food history and it’s also thought using ceramics in Moroccan cooking came from Roman influence.
The Romans were big on ceramics and were found during their rule of Roman Africa.
Either way, we can now enjoy amazing recipes from this old method of cooking.
Easy lamb tagine
- 1 tagine or dutch over or pressure cooked
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 – 1.5 kg cubed lamb shoulder (5cm/2in chunks)
- 2 large onions, grated
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp argan oil (or vegetable)
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 570 ml tomato juice
- 2 x 400 g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 115 g dried apricots, cut in half
- 55 g dates, cut in half
- 55 g sultanas or raisins
- 85 g flaked almonds
- 1 tsp saffron stamens, soaked in cold water
- 600 ml lamb stock
- 1 tbsp clear honey
- 2 tbsp coriander, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- Place the cayenne, black pepper, paprika, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon into a small bowl and mix to combine. Place the lamb in a large bowl and mix all together with half of the spice mix. Cover and leave overnight in the fridge.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp of argan oil in a tagine.Add the grated onion and the remaining spice mix and cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes so that the onions are soft but not coloured. Add the crushed garlic for the final 3 minutes.
- In a separate frying pan, heat the remaining oil and brown the cubes of lamb on all sides then add the browned meat to the tagine.De-glaze the frying pan with ¼ pint of tomato juice and add these juices to the tagine.Add the remaining tomato juice, chopped tomatoes, apricots, dates, sultanas, flaked almonds, saffron, lamb stock and honey and bring to the boil.Turn down the heat to low, place the lid on and cook for 2-3 hours or until the meat is meltingly tender. Stir the tagine every so often so it doesn’t stick and burn on the bottom. If it reduces and thickens too quickly, add a splash more water to loosen it.You want a rich sauce that’s still fairly liquid.
- Serve with the chopped herbs sprinkled over and with couscous, freekah or chickpeas.