This Moroccan lamb tagine is perfect for winning a crowd over

Discover the flavours of North Africa with this lamb tagine with sultanas and pinenuts.

  • Serves: 7
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cooking: 2.5 hours – hands-off cooking
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Ideal for: crowd-pleaser, lamb lovers
  • Budget: £

Moroccan cuisine has been greatly influenced by trade with other cultures and nations over the centuries. Moroccan cuisine is typically a mix of Berber, Arabic, Andalusian, and Mediterranean cuisines with slight European and sub-Saharan influences.

Slow-cooking tagine style

The cone-shaped top is 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.

And when you think of a tagine you think of spices.

The usual suspects are 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 Berber tagine is a recipe that is all about how the vegetables are arranged artistically in a conical style to hide the meat.

The truth is… you can cook anything you like in these stunning dishes.

 Do I need a tagine dish to make this?

The short answer is, no.

You can happily make this delicious recipe with a Dutch oven/casserole dish.

But the key is to have a good lid as so the moisture drips back into the dish.

Lamb tagine with sultanas and pinenuts

Lamb tagine with sultanas and pinenuts

The best thing about North African food is the amazing spices.


A key one for a tagine is Ras el Hanout which means ‘top of the shop’ – meaning the best spices in the shop.

It’s a vibrant and aromatic blend with hints of warmth, earthiness, sweetness, and a touch of spiciness.

Ras el Hanout blend is a combination of spices, including cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and more.

Ras el Hanout substitute

You can make it yourself if you have a good spice rack (I popped in a BBC Good Food recipe, below).

However, if you don’t have time to make up a batch of Ras el Hanout or get to a shop here are some good substitutes to use.

Coriander, saffron, or a mixture of paprika, cumin, and ground ginger.

Or if you baharat or garam masala, they can be substituted in as well.

Here’s BBC Good Food’s recipe…


  • 2 ½ tbsp cumin seed
  • 2 tbsp coriander seed
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp black peppercorn
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp cardamom pod (seeds from about 10 pods)
  • a good pinch of saffron (optional)


  1. Toast the whole spices in a small pan until they are aromatic and have turned a shade or two darker. Don’t be tempted to skip this stage, as it really enhances the flavours.
  2. Tip into a spice grinder (or use a pestle and mortar), then add the ready-ground spices and dried herbs if required, and crush to a fine powder. Store in a sealed jar for up to six months.

History of tagines

Tagine is the word for the slow-cooked method of cooking.

And is core to Moroccan cuisine and culture for hundreds of years.

It’s a type of North African cookware made of clay or ceramic.

Which has a fantastic conical shape that you can both cook and serve from and looks impressive sitting in the middle of your table.

It’s a bit like the word, casserole, which means both the dish and the cooking method (I mention this in my recipe for chorizo stew).

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.

Lamb tagine with sultanas and pinenuts

Lamb tagine with sultanas and pinenuts

Course Main Course
Keyword lamb, lamb tagine, tagine
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Servings 7 people
Cost £


  • 1 kg lamb neck fillet (grass-fed if you can) cut into chunks
  • 1 – 2 onions, diced
  • 1 tbsp Ras El Hanout
  • 1 – 2 cinnamon stick, broken into large pieces
  • a pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • sea salt for seasoning
  • 1 x 400 g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pinenuts for garnish
  • bunch of fresh parsley, chopped


  • Preheat oven to 160°C.
    In a tagine (or large casserole dish with a lid), add a little oil and brown the lamb (you may need to do it in batches). Remove to a plate.
    In the same dish, add the onions and soften for a minute or so, then add the Ras el Hanout, cinnamon sticks, saffron, 1 – 2 tins of tomatoes (judge if you need another tin to cover the lamb) and stir on low heat for approx. 10 mins.
    You may need to add some water to ensure there is enough liquid covering the lamb.
    Add in the sultanas and apricots and the lamb (+ any lamb juices).
  • Transfer to the oven to cook with the lid on for for approx. 2.5 hours or until the lamb is tender.
    Remove the cinnamon stick and garnish with parsley and pine nuts and serve over warm couscous.