Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lamb Tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots

This lamb stew is a somewhat decadent treat, but it's absolutely delicious.  The tart apricots are the perfect counterpart to rich lamb and a perfectly spiced broth.  We weren't able to locate Ras-el-Hanout, the key spice in this recipe, so we made our own based on what we had in the cupboard and could find at the grocery.  This was actually a great way to do it - rather than ending up with a whole jar of a spice blend we might not use again for a long time, we made almost just the right amount for the tagine plus a little extra to use as a spice rub on chicken the next week.  Plus, you can customize it to feature spices you love or exclude some that you aren't a fan of or that are too expensive. 

One word of warning - we found the dried apricots didn't hold up well to storage in the fridge, so if you're planning on leftovers, pack them up before adding the apricots to the pot.  When you're ready to reheat your leftovers, you can add the apricots then for perfect texture and flavor.  Since I ended up picking the apricots out of my leftovers, I added some raisins instead, which were also fantastic with the other flavors of the dish.  So, raisins are a good option if you're not an apricot fan or if you're just in the mood for something different.

Lamb Tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots (adapted from Bon Appetit)
Serves 6-8

Olive oil
3 pounds lamb stew meat or lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
5 tsp Ras-el-Hanout (purchase pre-made or recipe below)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T chopped peeled ginger
1 cup caned diced tomatoes (with juices)
2-1/2 cups low-salt chicken stock
2 cans chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup halved dried apricots
Couscous, to serve
Chopped cilantro, to serve
1. Heat enough oil in a large heavy pot to over the bottom, over medium heat.  Season the lamb with salt and pepper, and then brown it, working in batches, about 4 minutes per batch.  Transfer lamb to a bowl and set aside.
2. Add the onion to the pot, reduce heat to medium, and season with salt and pepper.  Saute until just golden, about 5 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic, Ras-el-Hanout, and ginger and stir for one minute.  Add the tomatoes and lamb, along with any accumulated juices.  Bring to a boil.
3. Add the chicken stock and return to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the lamb is tender, about one hour and 30 minutes.  Stir the lamb occasionally during the cooking time.
4. Stir in the chickpeas and apricots and simmer until heated through, 5-10 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Stir over couscous and sprinkle with cilantro.

Ras-el-Hanout (adapted from Bon Appetit and My Recipes)
Makes about 6 teaspoons

1-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp black pepper
Mix everything together.  You'll end up with a bit more than needed for this recipe, but the extra can be used as a spice rub for chicken, beef, or salmon.


  1. Gah! I need to make a dish with lamb. I keep saying that. This dish looks delicious.

  2. I know I can make this dish in another pot but I keep meaning to get myself a proper tajine. This looks delicious! With or without the apricots!

    1. Oh yes, that would be amazing! I didn't make a note above that I just made this in a regular pot (and got great results), but it definitely would be fun to do it in the correct tajine! :)

  3. What a delicious meal. I agree - lamb and apricots go so well together. And as for that Middle Eastern spice, I've heard you can substitute it for Moroccan spice mix, something that is quite easy to purchase from any supermarket (well, here in Sydney it is!). Great recipe. xx

  4. Great!! I love moroccan food.. also the combo of salty and sweet.. Tagine lamb with dried plums and some toasted almonds for decoration is awesome. Is my favorite dish! You have to try it :)