Given that our first experience of lamb tagine was down a dingy Marrakech backstreet, it took us a while to realise that this Moroccan staple, when cooked in proper North African style, was actually a complex and delicious dish. Combining unctuous lamb with apricots and classic Maghrebi spices, it's a crash course in Moroccan cooking all on one plate. See below for the recipe.
· 675g/1½lb lean boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 2.5cm/1inch cubes
· 30ml/2tbsp oil 3 large shallots or 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
· 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
· 10ml/2tsp ground ginger
middot; 1.25ml/¼tsp ground turmeric
· 1.25ml/¼tsp sweet paprika
· Salt and freshly milled black pepper
· Pinch saffron threads
· 450ml/¾pint hot water
· 1 cinnamon stick
· 2 sprigs fresh thyme
· 3-4 dried apricots, roughly chopped
· 45ml/3tbsp freshly chopped coriander
· 30ml/2tbsp fresh pomegranate seeds
Heat the oil in a large 1.7l/3 pint ovenproof dish, and add the onions, ginger, turmeric, paprika and seasoning. Cook over a low heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the meat and garlic, coat in the flavoured oil and cook for 4-6 minutes until brown all over. Add the saffron and water.
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for two hours. Twenty minutes before the end of the cooking time add the cinnamon stick, thyme, apricots and coriander. Cover and continue to cook for the remainder of the cooking time. Remove the thyme and cinnamon stick from the tagine. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds and serve with steamed couscous or rice.
Mark Sargeant is working with Quality Standard beef and lamb to encourage everyone to be more adventurous with their cooking; simplybeefandlamb.co.uk.