Moroccan Lamb Tagine

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I received this recipe from my friend Flora.  I love lamb, probably because I grew up eating it.  This dish is actually the only thing I ever order when I go to Cafe Mogador, a Moroccan restaurant in the East Village.   In Morocco, tagines are slow-cooked stews braised at low temperatures, resulting in tender meat with aromatic vegetables and sauce.  Although this recipe has some pricey ingredients, it is definitely worth it because it’s very delicious and it makes enough to get a couple of meals out of it. I recommend that you set aside a couple of hours for this meal because it takes time to cook the flavors down to a stew.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 lbs lamb shoulder (if the store doesn’t have shoulder, ask your butcher what cut would work best in a stew).
  • 2 large yellow or white onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 20 dried pitted prunes
  • 4 tbs almond powder
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1/2 tsp saffron
  • 1/2 tsp ginger (minced or powdered)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbs sesame seeds (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

The spices listed are the general recipe, but you can adjust them to your liking.  I added a little more honey, ginger and cinnamon.  I added a pinch of the saffron which was about 1/2 teaspoon.  Almond powder is hard to find and I had to make my own by grinding almonds which I show below.

Cut the lamb into medium-sized chunks. Fortunately for me, the butcher at Whole Foods already had it cut up for stew.

Chop the onions and garlic, set aside.

I couldn't find almond powder at the store. I ground the almonds in a regular coffee grinder.

In a large stew pot, heat the olive oil. Add the lamb with salt and pepper and cook until browned. Remove from pan and reserve on a plate.

Add the onions and garlic to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add ginger, almond powder and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Once mixture is boiling, return lamb and any juices on the plate to the pot and add the prunes. Cover and simmer on low heat for an hour.

While stew is cooking, add sliced almonds to an un-greased frying pan and brown.

After an hour, remove cover and add cinnamon, saffron, honey and sliced almonds.

Cook for an additional 10 minutes so all the flavors blend together.

Serve over couscous and sprinkle sesame seeds on the top.

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