My favourite form of R&R.
The simple truth is I feel most at home and happiest when I’m in the kitchen, and I love nothing more than spending my spare time in there (invariably while wearing my pyjamas, which I find helps cultivate a state of relaxation).
Toiling away over a meal can be deeply pleasurable — especially when your efforts are finally rewarded and you can dig in. And as with many things, the greater the effort made the better the reward feels when finally it arrives. But not always...
It is possible to get that great big mealtime payoff without having to go crazy in the kitchen, and this tagine is one of those dishes that delivers way over and above the effort it takes. It’s literally a case of chopping the ingredients, putting them in a casserole pot and popping it in the oven until cooked. What could be simpler (ok so a takeaway is easier, but I think this is infinitely nicer to scoff).
The finished result packs a serious punch — I’m not overly fond of sweet Moroccan tagines, so prunes and apricots you won’t find here, instead with this you’ll be eating meltingly tender and flavoursome lamb in a rich sauce made tart from preserved lemon and aromatic from coriander and ginger, given depth courtesy of cumin and lamb stock (a cube shaped cheat) and sweetness from carrots and red onion.
It’s full of flavour, it’s moreish (no pun intended) and it will boggle your mind as to how you got so much flavour into this one dish with just 20 minutes prep time (at the very outside). This one really is kitchen alchemy in action.
Tagine for two
- 500g lamb shoulder, diced into large chunks and trimmed of too much excess fat
- 2 red onions, finely diced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut in to batons
- 2 preserved lemons, quartered
- 150ml of the juice the preserved lemons are in
- A handful of good quality green olives
- A pinch of saffron
- A clove of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 heaped tsp ground ginger
- 1 heaped tsp turmeric
- 2 heaped tsp ground cumin
- 1.5l light lamb stock (I used 1 Knorr lamb cube) or chicken/vegetable if you prefer
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tbsp cornflour mixed with a little water
- Pomegranate seeds and toasted flaked almonds to serve
Tabbouleh to serve
- Bulgar wheat cooked in a little chicken stock and left to cool, then mixed with the juice of one lemon, fresh chopped mint and coriander, some olive oil and pomegranate seeds.
- Preheat your oven to 150°C.
- Place all the ingredients for the tagine into a large casserole pot, mix through and place on the hob on a high heat, as soon as the liquid begins to boil, take it off the heat, put a lid on it and pop it into the oven for 2 to 2.5 hours (mine took 2.5 hours but it will depend how accurate your oven temperature is).
- Remove and bring on to the hob and place it on to a low heat, add the cornflour mixture and stir to mix it in and thicken the sauce slightly, cook for a few minutes, then serve over the tabbouleh and top with a few pomegranate seeds, the flaked almonds and more mint if you fancy.