Why not try cooking a deliciously fragrant lamb tagine? Don’t be put off by the lengthy marinading or cooking times – the recipe is easy! This lamb tagine is equally at home on the family dinner table as it is at a dinner party. It freezes beautifully, and the flavours actually develop when frozen or stored in the fridge fr a couple of days.
The first time I made lamb tagine, it was from Stephanie Alexander‘s wonderful cookbook, The Cook’s Companion. Stephanie’s recipe includes quinces, and I know many tagine recipes include fruit of some kind. The combination of fruit with spices and meat is one of the hallmarks of middle-eastern cuisine. This particular recipe does not include fruit, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t add quinces or apricots.
Since my first attempt at lamb tagine, I’ve borrowed tips and tricks from many different sources, including some of the incredible cooks I’ve met through working at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne. The recipe we share here is slow cooked, which means you can use a cheaper cut of meat for melt-in-the-mouth results. We used diced lamb shoulder.
When it comes to the spices, use the freshest you can find. Always use fresh garlic. Yes, it’s annoying to have to peel and finely dice, but the results are worthwhile.
Marinade the meat in the spice mix overnight. If you’re short on time, two hours will also render really good results.
While the meat is marinading, prep your other ingredients. To peel the tomatoes, cut an X into the top of each tomato. Place tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. After a couple of minutes the tomato skins will slip off easily.
To cook this dish, you can use a tagine – a special kind of cooking pot designed to cook tagines – if you have one. We had one, but ended up selling it. We just use a deep-sided frying pan with a heavy base and a lid to get excellent results. Aside from the salt that you add to your spice mix, don’t season your lamb tagine until it is ready to serve. As the liquid reduces, the intensity of flavour will increase and so will the saltiness. It’s easier to add more salt than try to fix an over-salted dish!
- 4 tsp ground cumin
- 1 TBS ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 TBS sweet paprika
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 cloves garlic finely chopped or crushed
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1½ kgs diced lamb shoulder
- 2 onions sliced
- 2 cups water or beef stock
- 2 large tomatoes peeled and chopped
- ¾ tsp saffron threads soaked in a small dish of hot water
- 1 large carrot cut in to matchsticks
- ¾ cup fresh coriander chopped
- ¾ cup pitted kalamata olives
- ½ preserved lemon, rind only finely sliced
- couscous cooked according to packet directions
- fresh coriander
To make the lamb tagine
- Place ground spices and garlic in a large bowl with a teaspoon of cooking salt and about 3 TBS of the olive oil. Mix together.
- Add lamb and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 2+ hours or overnight if possible.
- Meanwhile, prep your veg, herbs etc. When meat has finished marinading, heat oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan and cook the lamb in batches, about 5 minutes each until browned. Set meat aside.
- In the same pan, cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the water or stock, tomato, saffron, carrot and coriander. Return the browned meat to the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 2 hours. Check from time to time and add more water if needed to prevent the mixture from drying out.
- Add the olives and cook for another hour (3 hours in total). Check seasoning, and serve lamb tagine with couscous, preserved lemon, harissa and additional coriander.