I’ve been cooking this dish for around 5 years – since around the time I first moved to Dubai. I actually started cooking it for a bit of a back to front reason. Settling into my new flat and kitting out my kitchen, I was one day perusing a local, cheap and cheerful homeware store. I found this tagine and I bought it because I thought “hmm that looks cool, never had one of these”. Of course then I had to sample a few recipes to see what all the fuss was about (having never even tried a tagine stew prior to this). I ended up honing this Apricot Lamb Tagine as my recipe of choice over the years. They don’t seem to have my tagine, or any for that matter, in stock any longer, but here is an idea of what mine is like to give you an idea. (Although, mine has little handles which is useful).
If you’ve never sampled Tagine before, it’s a North African dish – cooked in a pot with a long, tent like lid which captures the steam from the cooking and and puts the liquid from the condensation back into the dish. If you don’t have an actual tagine then you can use a lidded casserole dish instead.
I’m always too scared to put the tagine directly on the heat, so if I’m using it for a recipe that needs any of the ingredients or meat browning, I warm it up while I do all that in a frying pan then transfer. I’m pretty sure that you should brown the meat directly in the tagine, but I’m terrified of it cracking on hob. I’d love to hear what anyone reading this does themselves!
This recipe definitely lends itself well towards cooking a few portions and refrigerating for up to 3 days or freezing. I tend to cook a couple of portions and reheat the second portion another night.
Serve this apricot lamb tagine with a side of cous cous, as is quite typical for a traditional tagine. A leafy salad also works well. The last time I made this I actually decided to try something slightly different but equally complementary and served with a honey and date quinoa salad. It went beautifully!
If you aren’t a fan of the texture of dried apricots then fear not. They melt quite well into the dish just leaving a subtle flavour in the sauce. After an hour in the oven they will have reduced down a lot but if you can’t stand that even then reduce the oven temperature to around 160°C and cook for a couple of hours. Just keep an eye on the lamb overcooking and becoming less tender. You’ll find that they have all but melted into the sauce by then.
Apricot Lamb TagineCourse: DinnerCuisine: North AfricanDifficulty: Easy
A rich and spied Moroccan Apricot Lamb Tagine. A hint of Apricot in the sauce gives a fruity and sweet taste to this beautiful dish made with tender lamb and chickpeas simmered in a tomato base.
150g cubed lamb – cut into smaller bite sized pieces if they are on the large size
90g carrots – cut into chunks
30g onion – diced
1 clove garlic – crushed
100g tinned chopped tomatoes
120g tinned chickpeas (drained weight)
25g dried apricots
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
tsp olive oil, or light cooking spray
small handful of coriander, chopped
- Heat the oven to 180°C and put the empty tagine (if you are using) in the oven to warm. Heat the oil or a few squirts of cooking oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat if you are going to transfer to a tagine. Alternatively if you are using a heavy based casserole pan use that directly on the hob.
- Seal the lamb in the oil for a few minutes until it is browned all over. Remove and set to one side.
- Add the onions and carrots to the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes until they are starting to slightly brown, then add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
- Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, apricots and spices (not including the coriander) to the pan and stir well. Then add the lamb back into the stew.
- If you are using a tagine then carefully remove from the oven and add the mixture into the bottom. Add the lid and place in the oven. If you are using a casserole dish then simply place the lid on and put in the oven.
- Cook for one hour and then test the lamb – it should be melt in your mouth tender. If not then cook for another 20 minutes or so.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and sprinkle the tagine with the chopped coriander and serve! Beautiful…
- Calorie information does not include olive oil to brown the lamb