I was bought a traditional clay tagine pot for my birthday last year and have been meaning to use it for ages. I think I used it once as a decorative serving dish for some fruit but apart from that, it has been sat in the corner gathering dust. It wasn’t until a friend came round and pointed out how much she loved tagine that we decided to do a tagine night with a couple of mates. It was a roaring success and the stew was delicious! I will definitely be using it more often.
You don’t need a tagine pot to make a tagine. The funnel lid is a traditional shape that helps the air circulate in a particular way while cooking but you will get very similar results in a casserole dish too.
There is no right and wrong when it comes to tagine recipes either. Just put what you like into it. I’m sure I’ll have North African grandmothers rolling in their graves at that comment as I bet they have sworn by, top secret recipes for the perfect tagine but in my humble opinion, if you like something, stick it in. Feel free to experiment with spices, meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts and herbs. The slow and low cook in the oven will transform whatever you decide on into a luscious, comforting meal.
- Olive oil and a knob of butter
- 1kg lamb leg, deboned and diced
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, grated
- 2 tsp each of ground cumin, garam masala
- 1 tsp each of ground coriander, ground cinnamon, turmeric
- ½ tsp allspice,
- 2 tsp harissa paste
- 1 Tbsp tomato puree
- 400g tin plum tomatoes
- 500ml chicken stock
- 100g prunes
- 50g pistachios or almonds, shelled
- Fresh coriander, mint, parsley
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Cous cous, flatbreads and tzatziki to serve
- Heat a little oil and a knob of butter in a large cast iron pan. When hot, add the lamb in batches and seal on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and gently sweat for 5 minutes without browning.
- Add the dry spices and harissa paste to the onions and allow the oil to warm the spices and release their flavours. Return the meat and resting juices to the pan and stir well. Add the tomato puree and cook for a further 5 minutes on a low heat.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, bring to the boil then add the hot stock. Keep stirring until returned to the boil then place in the pan or a tagine if you have one into the oven for 2 hours or until the lamb is really tender. 5 minutes before serving, stir in the prunes and nuts and chopped herbs and remove from the oven.
- Serve with any grain, bread and dip you like. I went for the classic herby lemon cous cous with my infamous garlic flatbreads and tzatziki dip.