I’ve had multiple tagines in my time and they have come in various shapes and sizes. Some have been like stews, others have been simple meat and vegetables cooked in those conical terracotta pots. That latter one may not sound overly exciting but I had one in Morocco with lamb, potatoes, and onion (plus assorted vegetables) and it was actually amazing. I have no idea how they made those few ingredients taste so good.
Considering that lack of awareness, plus my fondness for a good stew, I opted to try and make that version. Since The Flatmate and I already have a good stash of spices in our cupboard and our local food market, with its array of grocers and butchers in Brixton, is full of bargains, I figured trying tagine myself would be a bargain compared to buying it out or flying out to Morocco to find some.
I have been on a bit of an aubergine fix lately, so decided to throw some of that in, along with my lamb, instead of the traditional apricot/date accompaniments. I’m not a massive fan of either of those things with meat. I also threw in some chopped tomatoes. I figured that since I find them a welcome ingredient in my favourite/regular lamb curry, they would be good here too – and they were. Having said that, three hours and much stirring later, both the tomato and aubergine had basically dissolved into the sauce, leaving only their seeds and skin, but they sauce tasted great (even if I do say so myself) so I guess they worked their magic.
I decided to pair my tagine with some Mediterranean-inspired cous cous. Although there is probably enough going on in the tagine to be able to get away with some plain cous cous, I thought the tomato, red pepper and spring onion would go nicely with the sauce. They also gave it a bit of a crunch to make up for the dissolved aubergine and tomato. However, if you can’t be bothered with quite so many ingredients then that may be a good place to start. The ketchup and the white wine used in the sauce could be other places – I added these later in order to beef up the flavour a bit to suit my own taste.
Ingredients – serves 2
- 400g lamb shoulder, diced and de-boned
- 1/2 aubergine
- 1 tomato, diced
- 400ml beef stock
- 100ml white wine
- 400g chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- Ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp cinnamon (to taste)
- 1.5 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, torn up
- 1 tbsp cornflour and cold water
- Olive oil
Mediterranean Vegetable Cous Cous
- 100 cous cous
- 150ml vegetable stock
- 1 tomato, diced
- 2.5 tbsp chopped spring onion
- 1/2 red pepper, diced
- Heat the oven to 160°C.
- Heat some olive oil in a pan and brown the lamb. Once it’s sealed, put it aside in a bowl.
- Fry the onion, garlic and aubergine until they start to soften. Then add in the tomato and lamb and coat everything in the tomato paste.
- Sprinkle over the paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper and cinnamon and add a few twists of ground black pepper.
- Next pour in the chopped tomatoes, beef stock, honey and white wine and add a squirt of ketchup. Stir together and add the coriander.
- Put the cornflour in a mug and put in just enough cold water to cover it. Mix together and then pour into the sauce. Mix it in until the sauce starts to thicken.
- Tip the mixture into a casserole dish and put in the oven for 2 hours. Stir periodically.
- After two hours, take the casserole dish out of the oven and pour the mixture into a pan and simmer for a further hour, stirring regularly. I did this to reduce the sauce and attempt to get a richer taste. It may well have worked if I had left it in the oven but taking it out definitely did the trick.
- 20 minutes before the tagine is done, put the vegetable stock into a pan and bring to the boil. Then add the cous cous and simmer on a low heat for five minutes before putting it aside to stand for 10 minutes.
- While making the cous cous, fry the tomato, red pepper and spring onion until they soften. Once the cous cous is done, mix in the vegetables.
- Et voilà!! You are now ready to serve that up.