This slow-cooked Moroccan lamb preparation has a medley of textures and flavours with tender meat infused with spices, soft chickpeas and sweet apricots. It’s a delight for the eyes and a feast for the tastebuds.
Last weekend Sikander was inspired to experiment with cuisines that use similar spices as Indian. After a little thought we zeroed in on this Moroccan lamb preparation. While the spices used are similar to Indian cooking, the cooking technique is quite different. Instead of making a wet marinade, the mutton (or lamb) pieces are rubbed with a dry aromatic spice mix and then shallow fried. The meat is slow-cooked for about an hour so this recipe is for the days when you really want to enjoy the cooking itself. For me, it was delight to see how Sikander was enjoying the whole process of chopping and then combining everything and tasting the dish as it progressed.
It’s interesting how people across the world discovered nearly the same spices and then came up with entirely different ways of cooking with them. I would love to read a book on the history of origins of different cuisines. Any suggestions?
Morrocan Lamb tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots
By Sikander Siraj
Preparation time: |Cooking time: |Serves: 2-3
250 gms mutton/ lamb (cut into 1”-2” cubes)
1/2 cup chickpeas (soaked overnight and boiled or use canned)
1 cinnamon stick (roughly 2” long)
1 red onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tsp lemon zest
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
6 dried apricots
fresh coriander leaves for garnish
- To make the spice rub
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp red pepper powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper powder
- In a mixing bowl, combine all the spices for the spice rub. Add in the mutton or lamb pieces and toss to coat. Leave aside for 10 minutes.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a heavy large pan on medium heat. Shallow fry the meat pieces, turning them occasionally. Cook until the mutton is browned from all sides. Remove and keep aside.
- In the same pan, add 1 tbsp oil. Add the chopped onion and tomato paste. Sauté for 5 minutes until the onion is soft.
- Add the browned meat pieces and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat, cover the pot and simmer for about an hour until the meat is tender.
- Uncover and simmer until gravy is thick and coats the meat.
Check and adjust the seasoning for salt and pepper.
- Transfer the dish to a bowl and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot with couscous, rice or flat Indian breads.
Now add the chicken stock, ginger, tomatoes, chickpeas, lemon zest, apricots and cinnamon stick. Mix well and bring to a boil.