Not technically a true tagine, unless cooked in the traditional clay pot, this is more accurately a Moroccan stew, but a mighty tasty stew nonetheless. The word is thought to derive from the Berber meaning – ‘the special earthenware pot in which it is cooked’ and contains meat, fish or vegetables cooked slowly along with spices, fruits and nuts. My recipe can be adapted to be vegetarian (and vegan) and doesn’t take anywhere near as long as it used to. Thankfully.
500g cubed lamb
Vegetables of your choice such as courgette, aubergine, red pepper, butternut squash
2 garlic cloves
750ml veg or lamb stock
The zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon of honey
200ml tinned chopped tomatoes
100ml red wine
50g ground almonds
175g dried apricots
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for cooking
If using the lamb, brown in a frying pan in a little olive oil. When browned all over, remove from the pan and set aside.
Chop the vegetables to a similar size and finely slice the onion and garlic and soften over a medium heat. When starting to colour, add the chopped vegetables (and return the lamb at this point if using). Colour and soften the vegetables slightly before adding the stock, orange zest and juice, cinnamon stick, honey, red wine, tinned tomatoes and season generously with salt and pepper. Bring the mix up to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. If using only vegetables, simmer for 15-20 minutes. If using the lamb, simmer for at least 1 hour.
If you’re making this in advance, at this point turn off the heat and the tagine will keep very well for a few hours before reheating.
Chop the apricots and add to the tagine. Cook them in the sauce for 10-15 minutes to soak up the liquid and go all juicy and delicious.
Stir through the ground almonds which will gradually thicken the sauce. If you prefer a thicker sauce, feel free to add more (if you like a thinner sauce, add less, you get the picture).
When made separately, the lamb sauce will be much darker in colour and have a strong depth of flavour, whilst the vegetable sauce will be brighter and have much more colour. I like to make one of each and serve them together along side cous cous, or brown rice, sprinkled with chopped mint, flaked almonds and pomegranate seeds; and toasted flatbread.