It took me time to appreciate Moroccan food. It is a very different proposition from Lebanese cooking, which doesn’t mix sweet and savoury in the same way. But the richness of the flavours won me over just as the extraordinary, shape shifting landscape of Morocco seduced me on a drive through the heart of the country a decade ago. I tried tagine for the first time there beside a lagoon during Ramadan. One of my children was almost swept away by a vicious current that suddenly appeared and nearly dragged her into the rough waters of the Atlantic. My husband held onto her for forty minutes until a fisherman finally reached them in a boat. So, it wasn’t the most auspicious moment to appreciate the rich succulent delicacy of a blazing hot tagine. I think my version of the dish adds a dash of Lebanese clarity to the bewitching stew of Moroccan tastes and textures that makes a great tagine, with all the raisins, almonds, olives, prunes, apricot and spices you could want.
1 boneless leg of Lamb cut in cubes
2 tea spoons of cinnamon
2 tea spoons of turmeric
1 tea spoon of ground cumin
1 pinch of saffron
1 large spoon of dry mint
2 tea spoons of paprika
2 large spoons of dry coriander
2 teaspoons of dry parsley
2 tea spoons of salt
1 tea spoon of black pepper
2 large spoons of vegetable oil
2 large onions peeled and diced
8 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed
1 very small hot red chili pepper diced
1 bunch of fresh coriander chopped
2 large spoons of fresh parsley chopped
250g tinned chopped tomatoes
3 large spoons of clear honey
1 lamb or chicken stock cube
100g of dried apricot
100g of seedless raisins
100g of dates, stones out
50g of seedless prunes
100g of blanched almond
100g of large green olives
3 glasses of fresh warm water
- Put the meat in a large bowl, add all the spices to the meat: cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, saffron, dry mint, paprika, coriander and dry parsley, salt and pepper.
- Mix well and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight or for couple of hours before cooking.
- In a large cooking pot, heat the vegetable oil and fry the onion, garlic and chili until tender.
- Add fresh coriander, parsley and tinned tomatoes, stir well then add the honey and the chicken or lamb stock.
- Leave to simmer for couple of minutes, then add the lamb and all the dried fruits, including the olives and the almonds.
- Stir well then add the water, cover with the lid and leave on high temperature for 10 minutes or until the sauce starts to boil.
- Reduce the temperature to minimum, and leave to simmer for 2 hours.
- Stir the tagine from time to time and make sure the sauce is always covering the meat, add hot water if necessary.
- Once ready serve hot on a bed of couscous.