I got inspired to this dish by a wonderful and extremely tasty lamb tajine that I had in Morocco once. Although I did enjoy the local staple dish cooked in the unmistakable earthenware pot on many occasions while traveling through Morocco, I especially remember one particular tajine that I had in a simple riad just before a truly magical overnight stay spent in a tent in the desert dunes of Erg Chebbi. While you would probably not think that a hearty meat stew could constitute a soothing meal in the searing hot climate of the North-African desert, after a long day of driving in a 4×4 through the open dusty landscape the soft-boiled vegetables and meat in rich deep broth was actually just what was needed to recharge the one’s batteries.
As I do not own a tajine pot, I prepared the meat in a roaster, and I believe the result is pretty similar. Enjoy with some freshly baked flatbread and yoghurt on the side!
- 500 grams of lamb shank or shoulder (without bone)
- 1 teaspoon of coriander seed
- 1 teaspoon of sesame seed
- 3 cardamon capsules
- 1/2 teaspoon of aniseed
- 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon of ghee
- 2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 300 ml of lamb stock
- 5-6 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 4-5 large chunks
- 1 organic lemon, cut into 8 pieces
- 2 tomatoes, cut into quarters
- 100 grams of dried dates (no sugar added), stones removed and cut into halves
- 2 tablespoons of blanched cut almonds
- 4 sprigs of mint
- 4 sprigs of dill
- 4 sprigs of parsley
- For serving: squeeze of lemon, yoghurt, flatbread
- Remove any fat and sinew from the meat and cut it into large chunks.
- Grind the coriander seed, sesame seed, cardamon, aniseed, peppercorns, cumin and paprika in a mortar.
- In a bowl, mix the meat with the spice mix. Break the cinnamon stick in 2 pieces and add.
- Heat up the olive oil and ghee in a roaster over medium to high heat. Sear the meat from all sides for a few minutes.
- Add the onion and garlic cloves. Fry briefly.
- Season with salt and add the lamb stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the temperature and cover.
- Let simmer over low heat for 1 1/4 hours, then add the carrots, potatoes and the lemon.
- Continue simmering for around 15 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and the dates and simmer for another 5 minutes.
- In the meantime, toast the almonds in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat (no oil!) for around 5 minutes, turning them frequently.
- Remove the leaves of the herbs from the stems, mix and chop roughly.
- For serving, ladle the stew into a deep bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with the herbs. Serve with yoghurt and some freshly baked flatbread on the side.