A share worthy slow cooked North African lamb stew that has been on the back burner for a while, after trying out different methods and settling on one that appealed to my taste – and an opportunity to use my decade old authentic Moroccan Tajine, a travel gift from a dear ex-colleague
Moroccan and Algerian tajine dishes are slow-cooked savory stews, typically made with sliced meat, poultry or fish together with vegetables or fruit. Spices, nuts, and dried fruits are also used. Common spices include cumin, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron. Paprika and chili are also used. The sweet and sour combination is common in tajine dishes like lamb with dates and spices. Tajines are generally served with bread. Because the domed or cone-shaped lid of the tajine pot traps steam and returns the condensed liquid to the pot, a minimal amount of water is needed to cook meats and vegetables. This method of cooking is practical in areas where water supplies are limited or where public water is not yet available.
The cooking process began with the overnight marinating of boneless lamb to allow the spice blends to infuse. The following day I began cooking this amazingly fragrant and spicy meal in my ceramic casserole pot, as I was unsure if the ceramic decorative tajine would survive my glass top stove. Head chef arranged a diffuser to put the tagine onto, providing elevated even heat distribution, in the final stages of cooking and it worked well in sealing in the amazing flavours of this dish. I used lemon, preserved in salt which I home dehydrated along with my dried fruit making, and, dried sugar and preservatives free cranberries to replace fresh lemon and raisins or sultans. The dates provided the delicate balance in flavours, rendering the use of honey unnecessary.
Home made harissa paste worked amazingly well in this recipe and served with cauliflower couscous, it’s a meal of gastronomic and resplendent proportions, one that is worthy of making over and over An enjoyable flavours of the World meal make, adapted for a gluten and sugar free lifestyle.
750g boneless lamb, cubed (I used lamb leg)
1 tblsp fresh ginger, minced or fresh ginger paste
2 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp paprika
1½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
- Combine all the ingredients above in a glass bowl or casserole dish, mix well to coat all the lamb in the spices, cover with plastic cling wrap, sealing the dish, and refrigerate overnight.
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely grated
2 tblsp harissa paste
1 large carrot, chopped into bite-sized portions
¼ cup dried apricots (sugar and preservatives free)
¼ cup dried cranberries OR raisins (sugar and preservatives free)
¼ – ½ dried lemon OR the juice of half a lemon and the zest 1 small fresh lemon
3 pitted dates OR 2 fresh medjool dates, chopped
1 cup bone broth OR liquid stock of choice (sugar free, preferably home made)
Optional: 1 tsp raw honey (not necessary as the dates provide adequate taste balance and sweetness)
- In a ceramic casserole pot or tagine, heat the olive oil on medium stove top heat. Brown the marinated lamb evenly on all sides, uncovered. You may need to do this in separate batches, based on the size of your cooking vessel.
- Remove the browned lamb from the pot and set aside in a dish, you will note that as the lamb rests, it will accumulate liquid.
- To the same pot, add in the grated onion, and sauté on medium heat for about five minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the onion is soft translucent. The onions will absorb the remnants of the browned lamb.
- Add the harissa paste, mixing it well to combine with the onions. Sauté for another two-three minutes.
- Return the lamb and its accumulated juices to the onion mixture, as well as the carrots and dried fruit. Add in sufficient bone broth or stock to cover the lamb.
- Cover with the pot lid, and simmer on low stove-top heat for 1½ hours. The lamb should be soft and tender. You may need to increase the cooking time if the lamb is not cooked to your preference. If the sauce is still thin, carefully remove some of the liquid and / or continue cooking with the pot lid removed.
- After the lamb is cooked, and the stew sauce has thickened, if using fresh lemon, add the lemon juice and zest to the tajine and mix well to combine.
- Top with fresh chopped coriander or parsley and serve with cauliflower couscous or a low carbohydrate veggie as preferred.