Tag Archives: Tajine

Lamb Tagine – prepare ahead for an easy life!

15 Jun

 I picked up a leg of lamb today. half price. from the supermarket and I am going to make a Lamb Tagine.  The recipe looks easy enough and I can prepare it ahead. I think it will actually improve with standing and it will give me a chance to use my new Tagine pot!  Lots of good reasons then to make it.

Tagine is a dish from North Africa, named after the earthenware pot it is cooked in.  The traditional Tagine has a flat circular base with low sides and a dome-shaped top.  The top is shaped like this to allow the steam to condense and return to the stew below, keeping the moisture in.  There is a knob at the top to facilitate easy removal of the top to allow additions to the stew whilst it is cooking.

Moroccan tagines are slowly braised at low temperatures.  This results in meltingly tender meat in aromatic sauces.  This cooking process is ideal for cheap cuts of meat so many recipes will use cheap cuts of lamb or chicken.  You will often find they include sweet ingredients such as dried fruits, preserved lemons and honey.  They will always, however, include spices, traditionally these will be a mix of  cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and paprika.  I used a leg of lamb, boned and cut into cubes, because my husband hates fat or chewy lamb.  The cooking time was almost halved, but I have kept the recipe as intended, ie, using cheaper cuts of lamb.

For years I would avoid cooking this meal.  I am not a lover of stews that combine meat with dried fruit and nuts.  What a fool I was!  The end result is absolutely gorgeous!!  Tagines are usually served with couscous.  I have never had any success with couscous and usually find it bland and tasteless.  This time I cheated and gave a ready mixed Moroccan couscous a try. All I had to do was add water and it was delicious.  I may have a go at making my own like this another time.  If you don’t like couscous, try serving it with rice or Orzo. I’m sure these would be just as good!

Here is the recipe.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine         Serves 6

  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1-2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1.5 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2.5 lbs boned lamb, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1.2 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb onions, finely chopped
  • 6 oz ready to eat dried apricots
  • 3 oz toasted, flaked almonds
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 1/2 pt tomato juice
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 pt hot lamb stock
  • chopped coriander to garnish
  1. Heat oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3.Mix the spices together in a small bowl then add to the lamb, mixing to coat well.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in an hob to oven casserole on a high heat. Brown the lamb in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan, adding extra oil for each batch.
  3. Turn down the heat to low and add the remaining tbsp oil. add the onions and cook until softened but not browned. Add the garlic and salt towards the end of cooking.
  4. Return the lamb to the casserole and stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil and transfer to a tagine or cover the casserole and cook in the oven for 2 hours or until the lamb is meltingly tender. Check occasionally and stir to ensure it is not drying out.
  5. Serve sprinkled with the coriander.

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Chicken Tagine – lovely.

5 Apr

DSCI0322I have only recently discovered the exotic flavours of tagines and I have absolutely fallen in love with them.  Previously I have made Lamb Tagines which are possibly more traditional but when I saw this recipe I decided to give it a go.  It tastes absolutely lovely, fragrant from the spices and preserved lemon but with a hint of sweetness from the dried fruit and the nutty flavour of the almonds. Wonderful!  The only change I made to the recipe was to limit the amount of orange peel to two small strips. I have had a few dishes that have included fresh orange and I have that it can overpower the dish completely and gives it a flavour I am not too keen on.  Of course if you love orange in food feel free to add more of the peel to your liking.

The recipe includes saffron, the most expensive spice in the world.  It is native to the Mediterranean area and most imported saffron comes from Spain. I always buy some when I am there as it is so much cheaper than in the UK.

The ancient Assyrians used saffron for medicinal purposes. The Greeks and Romans used it to perfume their luxurious baths. The bright orange-yellow color also made saffron useful as a dye.

Each saffron crocus flower has 3 stigmas, it takes about 80,000 flowers (240,000) stigmas to make a pound of saffron. It takes an experienced picker about 12 days to pick this many. By the time saffron gets to retail stores, its cost is £450 to £1500 per pound.

In 1444 any merchant caught selling adulterated saffron in Bavaria was burned alive.

Here is the recipe. Serve it with couscous or rice, or maybe even orzo.  It can be frozen but defrost well before reheating.

Chicken Tagine                                              Serves 4

  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • good pinch of saffron
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 6 skin on chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 inch piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 12 dates, pitted and halved if large
  • 2 small strips of orange peel
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 preserved lemon, rinsed well, flesh discarded and skin thinly sliced.
  1. Heat the coriander seeds in a dry pan until fragrant. Remove and grind.  Put the ground coriander, saffron, cinnamon and ginger in a bowl and mix well.  Rub the spice mix all over the chicken, put on a plate, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Heat the oil in a tagine or casserole over a medium heat. Add the onions, fresh ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick and 2 tbsp of the almonds with a good pinch of salt.  Fry until the onions are soft but not browned. Transfer to a plate.
  3. In the same pan, without washing it, add the marinated chicken, turn the heat up to high and sear the skin, turning as it browns. When golden brown all over return the onion mix and pour over enough water to just cover the chicken. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the dates, orange peel maple syrup and half the coriander. Simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes until the sauce is thick and syrupy.
  5. Serve the tagine on couscous or rice, sprinkled with the preserved lemon slices, coriander and remaining almonds.

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