Monday, 23 April 2018

#readcookeat recipe : Lamb Tagine (Court of Lions)

Jane Johnson's Court Of Lions (click through for my review) is a book set in Granada, in both modern and past times, following the trials and tribulations of the last Muslim sultans as they were ousted by the Spanish Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. I have already recreated a Spanish dish that was mentioned in the book - Piquillos Rellenos or Spanish stuffed peppers - but I was also tempted by the mentions of Moroccan and Tunisian style dishes.

p415 After dinner that night - a tagine of chicken with olives and preserved lemon that Abdou had managed to throw together as the sisters talked and talked - Jess took Kate's passport out of her bag and slid it across the table to her twin.

This is a dish that I discovered in Morocco and I've already shared the recipe here : Chicken with Olives and Preserved Lemons.

I read with great interest the description of another tagine, which cleverly combines influences of Morocco and Spain.

p215 "Lamb tagine," Khadija pronounced. "A classic Berber dish, but with a few Andalusian additions."
She handed Kate a plate and cutlery, then dealt out heaped spoonfuls till Kate had to protest about the limits of her appetite. She was, she noticed, the only one thus honoured : all the others used their flatbreads and fingers to delve into the tagine, selecting their mouthfuls deftly and without spilling a morsel. A neat trick if you could manage it,  but she was glad to have her spoon and fork. Among the tomatoes, peppers and onions and the browned chunks of lamb, Kate found garbanzo beans, apricots, almonds and the hard-boiled eggs Salka had been shelling. The spices were less easy to identify. Chilli seared along her tongue, but its edge had been gentled with cumin and something sweeter - not cinnamon, but something similar that held a faint taste of flowers and honey. And was that saffron that gave the onions their golden glow?

I didn't have garbanzo beans so I replaced them with chickpeas, which are a common ingredient in Moroccan and Tunisian tagines. I rarely cook with lamb - it's an expensive meat and the Madhouse kids aren't that keen on red meat - but I bought some slices of lamb, rather than a big half shoulder, and, mixed in with all the other ingredients and spices, they agreed that it was tasty and made a nice change. They weren't keen on the apricots though - although they like them cold, they didn't like them hot. I thought they added a lovely sweetness and softness to the dish though.

Lamb Tagine

ingredients :

2 onions
1 clove of garlic
drizzle of olive oil
300g lamb, chopped into chunks
salt, pepper
1tsp ras el hanout
1/2tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp ginger
1/2tsp cumin
1/2tsp coriander
1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
1/2 yellow pepper
tin of whole plum tomatoes
1tbsp tomato puree
handful of dried apricots
1/2 large tin of chickpeas
handful of flaked almonds

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onions and garlic over a low heat until soft but not browned.

Add the chunks of lamb and increase the heat so that the meat is seared on all sides. Season with salt and pepper. You can throw in all the spices at this point or after the tomatoes, whatever you prefer. I usually add them to the meat, so that they form a slight crust, then taste and add extra spices if necessary once the sauce has reduced, just before serving. It's better to add extra later than be too heavy handed at the start and regret how spicy it is !

Add the chopped peppers - you can use red, green or yellow, whatever you prefer. I opted for a mixture as I like the splash of colour that it adds to the dish.

Add a tin of tomatoes and break them up slightly with a knife. Give it all a good stir.

Toss in the apricots and make sure they are submerged in the sauce so that they will go nice and soft.

Finally, throw in the chickpeas and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, adding extra liquid during the cooking process if necessary.

Once the sauce has thickened, taste and adjust the seasoning. Sprinkle over some flaked almonds just before serving.  I realised at this point that I'd left out the boiled eggs that were mentioned in the book - feel free to add those too ! Serve with couscous and flatbread - you can choose whether to eat with a knife and fork or your fingers !

Adding to the #readcookeat linky over at Chez Maximka.

Adding to the #KitchenClearout linky as I used up some ends of bags of dried apricots and flaked almonds, as well as peppers from the fridge.


  1. What a delicious meal! I love apricots with lamb. For me, this would be a perfect dinner. And the description of the meal in the book is also very tasty, you can almost taste it, the way she describes flavours.

    1. It was such a great description of the dish that I didn't even have to look up a recipe ! :)

  2. Yum looks good


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