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I first sampled this combination of lamb with apricots as a street food in Marrakesh’s bustley Jemma el-Fnaa plaza and it knocked my socks off (should I admit to wearing socks and sandals on holiday?). Tagine’s are the traditional cooking pot but a casserole dish works just as well. As is the Moroccan way, finish off with a glass of fresh mint tea – kilogram of sugar in it is optional.

moroccan boys
Serves 6

1 kg Lamb shoulder, trimmed of fat and cubed
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp tumeric
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp ground coriander seeds
2 tbsp garam masala
A decent pinch of saffron strands, soaked in cold water
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp argan oil
chilli flakes

2 white onions
4 garlic cloves crushed
1 tbsp fresh ginger grated
1 red chilli finely diced

1 kg fresh tomatoes quartered
A small handful of dried dates
A small handful of dried apricots
A decent handful of raisins

Flaked almonds
Sesame seeds
Chopped coriander

For the Marinade
Begin by cutting the shoulder into small cubes trimming off excess fat. A little fat is ok though and adds to the flavour and gives a lovely jelly texture so leave a bit on. Measure out the spices and toss the meat into them along with the argan oil and olive oil. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for several hours. Leave the saffron in cold water and refrigerate also.

Cooking the lamb
Slice the onions and sweat them gently in a little olive oil. After a few minutes add the garlic, fresh ginger and chilli. When the onions are soft take the meat from the fridge and season with salt. Turn up the heat in your casserole dish and drop the meat in to seal the flesh.Allow the heat to gently cook the spices that will able them to release their flavour. Once the meat has a good colour pour the water with the saffron strands over and add the honey. Throw in the tomatoes and then the dried fruit. Stir the mixture well before placing a lid on and leaving to simmer. Check the casserole every 20 minutes to stir and make sure that you do not boil the mixture. Lamb is most tender when it is cooked gently over a long time. leave for 2 hours. When cooked adjust the seasoning with salt and then leave the pot to rest helping the meat relax and soften.

For the garnish
Take a handful of apricots and a handful of prunes and place in a small saucepan. Cover with a stock syrup, half sugar and half water covering all the fruit. Place on a low heat and simmer for 30 minutes and then leave to cool in the liquid. These become deliciously sweet without loosing their textures unlike the fruit is cooked in the casserole. Gently toast the flaked almonds in a frying pan with no fat until golden brown and just before they’re done add the sesame seeds.

Pita bread with fennel seeds
 
250g white bread flour
7g fast action yeast
1 large pinch of salt
160ml warm water
2 glugs of olive oil
A small handful of fennel seeds
 
Weigh the flour, oil, salt, yeast and fennel seeds into a mixing bowl and add the water.  Knead the dough for 10 minutes until its silky smooth. Leave to prove until doubled in size, or if you want to cook your pitas just before you eat, leave to prove in the fridge. Knock back the dough and cut into 6 equally sized balls. Roll into a pita shape with a pin using extra flour or semolina to prevent sticking. Place on baking parchment, brush with olive oil and, using a baking stone or heavy based baking tray cook the pitas at 200 °cfor around 8 minutes. Serve straight away.

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