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Recipe: Lamb, date and apricot tagine with herbed couscous

Try Amina Elshafei's twist on a warming lamb shoulder tagine. The perfect dish to celebrate with loved ones.

Australian Lamb
By Amina Elshafei

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours

Serves: 4


  • 1kg boneless lamb shoulder, excess fat trimmed and cut into 5cm cubes
  • 2 tsp Moroccan spice mix (also known as ras el hanout)
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3tbs olive oil
  • 2 medium brown onions
  • 20 strands of saffron
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup toasted whole blanched almonds
  • Water
Fruit Compote
  • 3/4 cup dried apricots
  • 3/4 pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2tbs honey
  • 1/2 tsp Moroccan spice mix (also known as ras el hanout)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Herbed couscous
  • 1 1/2 cups dried couscous
  • 2 1/4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3tbs salted butter
  • 2tbs finely chopped coriander leaves and stems
  • 2tbs finely chopped parsley leaves

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  1. In a mixing bowl, combine 2tsp of Moroccan spice blend, ground ginger, 1/2 tsp of salt and 2tbs of the olive oil and mix well.
  2. Add the lamb pieces and massage the spice paste into the lamb for a few minutes.
  3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a tagine or heavy based sauté pan and once hot, add the lamb pieces. Cook the lamb pieces until browned.
  4. Halve the onions and slice into 0.5cm pieces. Add to the browned meat and allow to simmer of medium heat until the onions become translucent.
  5. Add the saffron, cinnamon sticks and vegetable stock. Mix well and bring the sauce to the boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook the lamb for 2 hours. If needed, add a few tablespoons of water to the lamb if there is not enough liquid during cooking.
  6. Whilst the lamb is cooking, make the fruit compote by adding all the ingredients into a saucepan and bringing to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook until the fruit compote is left with 2tbs of liquid. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  7. In the last 15 minutes of the lamb cooking, mix the fruit compote gently with the lamb pieces. Remove the lid and cook uncovered for the last 15 minutes on a vigorous simmer until the sauce slightly thickens. After 15minutes, remove from the heat, cover and leave to rest for 10minutes.
  8. Whilst the lamb is resting prepare the couscous. Combine stock, butter and salt and heat until boiling. Stir until melted. Add the couscous and mix well in the hot stock. Cover tightly and leave for the grains to absorb for 5 minutes.
  9. After 5 minutes, fluff the couscous grains with a fork and stir through the chopped herbs. Place in a serving platter.
  10. Garnish the lamb tagine with the toasted whole blanched almonds and serve hot with the couscous.

Cook Tips

  • Deboned lamb shanks or lamb leg would also work in place of shoulder.
  • Dates can be replaced with dried raisins or sultanas.
  • This dish can be made in a shallow heavy based saucepan with a well fitted lid.

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