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Monday, 30 November 2015 12:00 AM

Moroccan Lamb Tajine

Friends of mine have just come back from Morocco, a fairly short holiday but they managed to go to a favourite restaurant of mine and have a Mechoui – a highly spiced roasted lamb (either whole or leg), slow cooked until the meat is soft and falls off the bone. They loved it, luckily as it was my recommendation and my favourite dish.

In practice a lamb tajine has all the same basic principles and flavoursome results as the Mechoui and is a more full-proof recipe so I would always favour doing a tajine at home.

Moroccan Tajines

Tajines are clay cooking dishes with conical lids that give their name to the signature dish of Morocco and you will see them everywhere on your holiday, but at home a slow cooked pot in the oven gives much the same results and saves bringing home yet another kitchen dish that is hardly every used.

There are a wide variety of recipes that are tajines – of which Lamb and Fig is just one, but a classic one at that, and one that is comparable to Mechoui.

Lamb Tajine

Whilst the Mechoui dish requires that the oil, garlic and spices are spread on the meat and marinated before very slow roasting for many hours, a process which is virtually impossible to do well at home, the tajine may be thought of as the stew version. It is easy to overcook lamb in the Mechoui leaving dry meat, but the tajine does not suffer from that problem so readily yet has all the same basic flavours.

Heat oil and cook a finely chopped onion and a few cloves of garlic before adding cubed 1kg of lamb chunks for searing. When the meat is browned add some cardamom pods, cinnamon (sticks or powder), 1 tea spoon of ground ginger, cumin, turmeric and a table spoon of paprika. Cook for a short blast ensuring the meat is covered well with all of the spices and add half a litre of vegetable stock.

This should be covered and left to simmer on a very low heat for an hour or so (occasional stir) before adding in 100g or dried figs and pitted dates or prunes (personal preference) before cooking for up to another hour.

Serving Up

Classically a tajine is served with Moroccan flat breads in Moroccan families but, as we have adapted Indian cooking to our Westernised-tastes, typically you read in cook books in the UK of it being served with couscous (do add lightly toasted almond flakes to the couscous if you have some – the extra crunch is well worth finding the extra ingredient).

Try Cooking on your Morocco Holiday

Naturally Morocco always aims to give our guests a real taste of Morocco (pun intended) and one option is to have a short cookery lesson in one of the places you are staying – just talk to our team to discuss the options, a fun couple of hours with a tasty treat to end with.