Tagine is the Moroccan word that refers to both the unique glazed earthenware vessel with a distinctive conical lid and also the food prepared in it.
Traditionally used by nomads throughout Northern Africa Tagines are primarily used to slow-cook savory stews and vegetable dishes over charcoal braziers . Because the domed or cone-shaped lid of the tagine traps steam and returns the condensed liquid to the pot, a minimal amount of water is needed to cook meats and vegetables to buttery-tenderness. This method of cooking is very practical in areas where water supplies are limited
This is a fiery North African paste that is orangey-red in colour. It’s a mixture of peppers, dried red chillies, garlic, caraway seeds, ground cumin and coriander, tomato purée, salt and olive oil. It can be used as a condiment or as an ingredient in cooking and provides a real boost as an accompaniment to vegetables and pulses.
Ras el Hanout
Ras el hanout, which translates literally as “head of the shop”, originated in the Meghribi villages of North Africa. It is a complex and distinctive mix of about 20 to 27 spices and herbs, the quantities of which vary according to the maker. Specific quantities are a much guarded secret from one spice shop to the next, and blending is considered an art. Ras el hanout is used with poultry, meat, game, rice and couscous. It can be found already mixed, like in specialty stores
My Lamb shank tagine with herb tabbouleh
This slow-cooked lamb stew with Moorish ingredients: ras-el-hanout, harissa paste, saffron, olives, dried apricots, pomegranates, pistachios and plenty of herbs provide the exotic flavours.Ingredients:
30 mins to 1 hour preparation time
Over 2 hours cooking time
For the lamb tagine:
4 lamb shanks
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thickly sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 tsp ras-el-hanout
2 tbsp harissa paste
2 cinnamon sticks
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp smoked sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 x 400g/14oz tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp clear honey
½ tsp saffron
350ml/12fl oz chicken stock
125g/4½oz stoneless dried apricots, halved
110g/3¾oz green olives, stones removed
100g/3½oz flaked almonds, leave a few for garnish
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the tabbouleh:
175g/6oz bulgur wheat , I like to use the corse type
350ml/12fl oz chicken stock
1 small red onion, finely chopped
350g/12oz pistachio nuts, shells removed, roughly chopped
1 lemon, juice and zest
1 pomegranate, seeds only
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
3 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
2 tbsp coriander cress
1. For the lamb shank tagine , preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3.
2. Heat a large tagine pan or a large ovenproof dish. Season the lamb shanks all over with salt and pepper. Pour in the olive oil and, once hot, fry the lamb shanks all over until golden-brown. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
3. In the same pan you used to fry the shanks, add the onion and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes.
Add the ras-el-hanout, harissa, cinnamon sticks, ground ginger, smoked sweet paprika, ground cumin, freshly ground black pepper and ground turmeric and cook for a further two minutes
4. Add the lamb shanks back to the pan and stir well, then add all of the remaining tagine ingredients – except a few of the flaked almonds for garnish.
5. Reduce the heat, cover the pan with a lid and cook in the oven for two hours, or until the lamb is tender.
6. Remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the tagine is slightly thickened.
7. For the tabbouleh, place the bulgur wheat into a pan with the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes over a low heat. When the bulgur wheat is tender, drain off the excess stock.
8. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, and then transfer the bulgur wheat to a bowl. Add the red onion, pistachios, lemon juice and zest, pomegranate, olive oil and herbs and mix well. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
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