Lamb tagine

Peter Flynn

While looking for a tagine recipe that included preserved lemons I found mostly chicken tagines. Very good too, but I had lamb, so this is a composite, formed from bits and pieces of tagine recipes I have used before (but I kept the preserved lemon). You don’t expensive diced lamb for this unless you're in a hurry: the cheaper cuts have just as much flavour when cooked longer.

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Serves 6. Heat your (fan) oven to 160°C. Prep time: 30 minutes. Cooking time: 3 hours.


  • 1 Kg boned lamb shoulder | cut into chunks
  • 1 small preserved lemon | cut into eight pieces
  • 2 medium onions | finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic | finely chopped
  • 1 thumb ginger | finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp mixed spices [eg ‘Moroccan’ ras el hanout or ‘Turkish’ lamb spice mix]
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 200 ml water (or light stock)
  • 12 mixed olives | stoned and halved
  • 6 dried apricots | halved
  • 4 dried dates | coarsely chopped
  • 75 g flaked almonds
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 × 400 g tin chopped tomatoes | strained; add some of the juice during cooking
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt (see tip)
  • 1 handful chopped parsley

A ‘tagine’ is also the name of a deep earthenware cooking dish, traditionally with a high conical lid topped with a little recess. You fill this with water when cooking starts, and when the water has evaporated, the cooking is done. I have a tourist version which doesn’t do this properly, and is far too small, so I use a lidded casserole dish instead.


  1. Mix the lamb with the lemon, onion, garlic, ginger, and spices and half the oil and combine well.

  2. Add the remaining half of the oil to a large casserole or tagine and fry the mixture to brown it a little.

  3. Add the turmeric, saffron, and water, mix and cover, then cook in the oven at medium heat for about two hours.

  4. Remove from oven and add the olives, apricots, dates, almonds, honey, tomatoes, and pepper. Add some of the tomato juice if it’s looking dry.

  5. Mix well and taste before seasoning. The lamb should be tender but not quite falling apart yet.

  6. Add a little salt if needed, cover and cook for another hour.

  7. When done, and the lamb almost melts in the mouth, stir in parsley and serve with couscous or rice.

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