I took myself off to Morocco for 11-days, solo, in 2012. I pretended I was a food writer so I could eat my weight worth of street food an excuse the fat that I would happily enjoy a second and third breakfast, most days. I had such kind and generous drivers who indulged my love of food, taking me to all their favourite spots and one who’s wife even made the most delicious savoury Pastilla for me – I bought her a new tagine, a terracotta pottery one from the mountains (because they’re better than the ceramic ones in the city, I was told) – to say thank you. I wrote a few words about it here if you’re interested.
One of the things I remember most about wandering the markets and villages, were all the tagines that would sit tucked away in corners, slow cooking all day long. I ate many, many, many tagines while I was there and took a lesson in properly preparing one from the cook at my Riad one night..
My Moroccan Lamb with Pumpkin & Dates is not a traditional tagine, but it is cooked low and slow with all the flavours that I remember so fondly from my time in Morocco: fragrant cumin, smoky paprika, aromatic turmeric, a hint of citrus, and sweet pumpkin, dates and cinnamon. Serve this with cous cous if you’re feeling traditional, but we ate ours tonight with turmeric rice and fried cauliflower. This will feed 6-8 people – enough for a feast or to ensure there are leftovers in the freezer.
Moroccan Lamb with Pumpkin & Dates
Serves: 6-8 – Prep time: 15-mins – Cook time: 3-hours
- 1 Tbsp ghee or extra virgin olive oil
- 500ml bone broth
- 1kg diced lamb *preferably organic
- 500g pumpkin, diced
- 1 can (400g) chickpeas, drained *preferably organic & BPA-free
- 1 can (400g) diced tomatoes *preferably organic & BPA-free
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 8 medjool dates, halved (apricots or prunes will also work here)
- 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
- 250ml water
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp cumin
- Peel of 1/2 an orange – use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest (not the white pith)
- Sea salt & fresh black pepper, to taste
- Optional extra: Fresh parsley and toasted flaked almonds to garnish
- Pre-heat oven to 160’C.
- Heat ghee in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add the lamb pieces and brown on all sides – you will need to do this in two batches as overcrowding the pan will stew the meat, not brown it. Remove lamb from then pan and set aside.
- Turn down the heat and add the diced onions to the pan, saute lightly for 2-minutes. Add the cinnamon, turmeric, cumin and paprika and stir for 1-minute.
- To a large cast iron pot (with a lid), add lamb, spiced onion mix, tomatoes, chickpeas, broth, water, pomegranate molasses, pumpkin, orange zest and dates. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper.
- Cover pot with lid and place in the oven for 3-hours. I like to check it after 2-hours and add a little more water or broth if it’s looking too dry.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and toasted flaked almonds.