A spicy twist on a traditional lamb dish this Easter
Surprise your family this Easter with this wonderfully flavoursome dish, courtesy of its beautiful blend of spices. Who knows, you might even establish a new family tradition!
Tip: Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – the majority are spices, and you may have them in your store cupboard already. If you have time to marinade the meat the night before then that’s an added bonus but it’s a very flavoursome dish anyway, so don’t worry if you don’t manage this step.
As with all slow cooked dishes, this Tagine will keep in the fridge for a couple of days and the depth of flavour just improves! Be careful to use ‘level’ tablespoons of spices where indicated, as using too much will spoil the aromatic flavour of the dish. All you need to do is level the spoon off with your finger or the back of a knife!
At a Glance:
Ideal for Intermediates!
Preparation: 25 minutes (overnight marinading of the meat adds an extra depth of flavour, but it’s not essential if you’re short of time!)
Spice rating: Medium
Cooking time: 2 – 2.5 hours
Medium to large oven proof dish/pan that can go in the oven
1x teaspoon cayenne pepper
1x teaspoon ground black pepper
½ level tablespoon paprika
1x level tablespoon ground ginger
½ level tablespoon turmeric
1x level tablespoon ground cinnamon
1x shoulder of lamb, trimmed and cut into 5cm chunks, OR make sure you have 1.2 kg of diced meat in total
1x tablespoon plain flour (a gently rounded tablespoon or 25g)
2x large onions (diced)
4x tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
3x large cloves of garlic, crushed
1x 500g jar of tomato passata (crushed tomatoes)
300ml / ½ pint of lamb stock (a good quality stock cube is fine)
½ teaspoon of saffron stamens (optional), soaked in a tablespoon of cold water for a few minutes
1x tablespoon clear honey
1x 400g tin chickpeas
100g of dried fruit – you can use dried dates (cut in quarters) or dried apricots (cut in quarters), or even a combination of the two!
2x tablespoons of coriander, roughly chopped
2x tablespoons parsley, roughly chopped
A pinch of toasted flaked almonds to garnish
Preheat the oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas 2
Mix all the spices in a together small bowl: that’s cayenne, black pepper, paprika, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon.
Now, ideally you’ll want to marinade the lamb. Place the lamb in a large bowl and toss it together with half of the spice mixture, then cover it and leave in the fridge overnight. If you’re short on time, though, you can move straight onto Step 4 and use all of the spices there instead.
Heat a little of the oil in a large frying pan, add the diced onion, and cook gently for 10 minutes so the onions are soft with a little colour. Add the crushed garlic and the remaining spice mix (or all of it if you skipped the marinade in Step 3), and cook for a further 3 minutes.
Remove the onions from the pan and place into an ovenproof dish or casserole pan.
In the frying pan, use the rest of the oil to brown the lamb gently on all sides (you may find you need to fry the lamb in a few batches). Then, add the lamb to the onions in the casserole dish.
Take the pan off the heat, and sprinkle the flour over the meat before stirring it in thoroughly so that you can’t see any trace of the flour. (The flour acts as the thickening agent for the Tagine.)
Add the passata and stir well, then add the lamb stock and the saffron stems (with soaking liquid). Once that’s done, place it in the oven and cook it for 2 hours at the preheated temperature. (150°C)
Remove from the oven. By now, the lamb should be deliciously tender. Add the honey, drained chickpeas and your chosen dried fruit. Adjust the consistency with a little water if needed.
Place the Tagine in a large serving dish and sprinkle with the chopped fresh coriander, parsley, and the toasted Almonds for a beautiful finishing touch.
Serve with Jewelled Couscous:
This couscous is very quick to make but looks wonderful, and is the perfect accompaniment to the Lamb Tagine. The trick is timing; if you prepare this when the Tagine is in the oven for the last 15 minutes, you can have it all ready to serve at the same time. With the optional ingredients listed here you can keep your couscous quite plain if you’d like, or make it a little more interesting!
400g couscous. Precooked couscous (which only needs boiling liquid to create light fluffy grains) is readily available from supermarkets, and is very quick and convenient.
3x tablespoons of olive oil
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock – brought to boiling temperature
Salt & pepper to taste
1x large pomegranate, seeded, or alternatively buy a packet of ready-to-eat pomegranate seeds
1x bunch fresh mint, chopped
25g sultanas (optional)
1x orange, segmented and chopped (optional)
1x dessert spoon pumpkin seeds (optional)
Place the couscous in a large bowl and pour over the boiling stock. Then, cover the container with a lid or cling-film, and leave for 5 – 10 minutes to soak up all the liquid.
Fluff the couscous up with a fork and add the oil, salt and pepper, pomegranate seeds and fresh chopped mint.
Add the optional ingredients as desired
Serve with the Tagine and a little mint yoghurt if you wish. (Natural plain yoghurt – a thicker Greek style works well, with a little mint sauce in and fresh mint if you have any to hand!)
My passion for cooking stems from my childhood growing up on my family's farm. Mealtimes would often involve being joined by friends, family and neighbours, all eager to enjoy the wonderful farmhouse fayre. As a professional chef I’ve worked in award winning restaurants, boutique country house hotels, and even the Royal Palace! Today, I hope my recipes can help you to enjoy good food, and good company, in style.