Carrying a large terracotta tagine on an aeroplane in hand luggage is no mean feat. Especially when accompanied by a medium-sized decorative tagine, an array of mini tagines (notice a theme here), a ceramic drum/tamtam, a huge serving bowl and six pudding bowls…
…So, after all that effort, I make sure I blimin’ well use it!
Before you cry “But I don’t have a large terracotta tagine” and hit close window… you can make a tagine in a normal large pan!
I mentioned the tagine is a previous post Souk up the mystical atmosphere in the Jemaa el Fna, Marrakech. A tagine is a slow-cooked stew, named after the cone-shaped terracotta pot that it is cooked in. The tagine is placed over coals, and the cone-shaped lid traps the steam and returns the condensed liquid to the pot.
For our purposes (I don’t know about you, but I am not cooking over hot coals), the tagine can be used on the hob and in the oven.
The tagine needs to be “seasoned” before use. See this website for how to do that!
And if you don’t have your own tagine… just use a normal oven-proof pan.
I have made quite a few tagines in the last few years – my family were lucky (?debatable?) enough to be served chicken tagine on Christmas day 2011 – but I have never made a lamb one. In the back of my mind I have am aware lamb is good in combination with pomegranate. By slow cooking the meat in pomegranate juice, the result was meltingly tender lamb falling off the bone, with a sweet, almost sticky, dark sauce.
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp ras el hanout (see box below)
350 g stewing lamb – I used lamb neck, which is perfect for a long cooking time and the bones add flavour to the tagine
Glug sunflower oil
3 garlic cloves, kept whole
6 new potatoes (or equivalent if using larger potatoes), chopped in half
2 medium-sized onions, sliced (not too small)
1 carrot, sliced (not too small)
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp harissa paste
12 dates, whole
1 tsp honey
250 ml pomegranate juice (proper stuff; not the juice drink)
Small bunch of fresh mint, half to add to tagine and half for the top
Pomegranate seeds, to serve
NB, you can pretty much put whatever vegetables and spices you want in here, experiment… I think it would be very hard to get it too wrong.
Ras el hanout is a Moroccan blend of spices. The name means “head of shop” in Arabic – i.e. the best that the vendor has on offer – and thus the blends differ from place to place. Find a spice shop in Morocco and ask them for ras el hanout (tip – write it down) and bring me some back too please!
- Place the cumin, turmeric, paprika and ras el hanout into a bowl and mix.
- Take the lamb pieces and place them one by one into the spice mix, so they are covered in spice.
- Heat the oil in a tagine or large ovenproof pan on the hob on a medium heat.
- Brown the lamb in the oil.
- Take out the lamb and put aside on a plate.
- In the same tagine or pan, add the garlic and onions and fry until soft.
- Place the lamb back into the tagine/pan and add the potatoes, carrots, cinnamon stick, ginger, harissa paste, dates and pomegranate juice.
- Place into a low oven (150°C ish, but it will depend on your cut of meat and oven) for approx. 3 hours (better cuts of meat need less time). Keep checking it and poking it around to see how it is getting on.
- When it is done, stir through half of the mint.
- To serve, either transfer into dish or serve straight from the tagine/pan. Sprinkle with the remaining mint and pomegranate seeds. Serve with cous cous, if you fancy.