Warming, spicy, comforting. Undertones of festive cinnamon and some punchy chilli. Sweet prunes, melting succulent slow cooked lamb and the freshness of lime all make this tagine one of my absolute favourites dishes! I once made this recipe when I catered for a 30th Birthday party for 70 people….needless to say, after repeatedly cooking up around 12 batches, my once favourite tagine recipe became a little hard to face again. However, enough time has passed and I couldn’t resist its tempting taste for my New Years Eve celebrations!
I give credit to the wonderfully wholesome and flavour laden style of Skye Gyngell for this recipe with a little adaptation from myself. I often serve mine, as recommended, simply scattered with fresh coriander on a creamy sweet potato puree. However, New Years Eve called for a glimmering jeweled rice salad and a tangy lime yoghurt.
NOTE: I’ve always used diced lamb shoulder for this recipe but this time I used a whole shoulder of lamb and cooked it on the bone for longer and shredded the juicy meat into the tagine sauce before serving. I highly recommend this if you’re willing to add a little more effort. If not, diced lamb shoulder works perfectly too!
- 1 small shoulder of lamb, or about 1kg diced lamb shoulder
- 3 red onions, chopped roughly
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3cm knob ginger, grated
- Bunch of coriander, stems chopped, leaves picked for garnish
- 1-2 red chillis (depending on their heat) finely chopped
- 2 tbsp spice mix (made by toasting 1tbsp of each fennel, cumin, coriander, fenugreek and mustard seed with 1 cinnamon stick, 3 cardamon pods and 1 star anise in a dry frying pan until hot, fragrant and beginning to pop. Grind in a pestle and mortar until fine).
- 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 bay leaves
- 1- 1.5 litres chicken stock
- 1 lime, juice only
- 200g prunes
- Optional- Skye suggests adding a splash of maple syrup (about 70ml) and100ml of tamari at the end of cooking. However, I never had these to hand on my first attempt so I left them out- it still tastes delicious without so feel free to experiment. For my tastes, I think the prunes add enough sweetness as it is without the need for syrup!
- Preheat the oven to 180.
- In a large heavy bottomed casserole dish, heat a splash of oil. Season the lamb and brown the shoulder/pieces well in the pan for about 10 minutes or so before setting aside to rest.
- In the remaining oil and lamb juices, fry the onion for about 5 minutes until soft.
- Add the chopped garlic, chilli and ginger and cook for a further few minutes.
- Add the spice mix, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves and cook out for a few minutes. Finally, add the chopped coriander stems and season.
- Add the tomatoes and bring to the simmer. Add the lamb back in at this stage either in diced pieces or the whole shoulder.
- Cover with about 1 litre of the stock or enough to cover. I find the amount of stock varies and can be topped up during cooking for a thicker tagine once it has reduced
- Cover and place in the oven.If using a whole shoulder cook for about 2 hours. If using diced lamb, cook for 45 minutes.
- After this cooking time, add the prunes and remove the lid. Cook for a further 1 hour for the shoulder or 30 minutes or so for the diced lamb. This really cannot be overcooked so allow to cook away for longer on a lower heat if you like. Just keep checking/adding more stock if it gets too thick. (Essentially, cook until the lamb is tender and the sauce has reduced to the desired consistency. Add more stock is to thick (I usually top it up as it cooks) or remove the lid to brown and reduce if too thin)
- Once ready, add the lime juice and (if using the whole shoulder) shred the lamb meat into the sauce.
- Scatter with the coriander and serve!
I served mine with:
Lime yoghurt– ½ lime, juice and zest, and some seasoning per 150g plain yoghurt)
Jeweled Rice – Cooked wild rice, diced spring onions, chopped coriander, salted cashews and pomegranate seeds (or see here for similar recipe)
WINE: In terms of a wine to drink with this tagine, all I had to hand was this (below) delicious bottle from Italy that I received as a gift that I have been too tempted to open for some time! A Tuscan wine made from a blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv and Sangiovese. Lamb and the typical dried fruits in this tagine went really well with the juicy Merlot flavours as would perhaps a Rioja of sorts.