- Course: Main Course
- Total Time: Half Day
- Skill Level: Moderate
- Cost: Moderate
- Favorited: 6 Times
This classic tagine-style recipe, in which lamb is braised in spices and honey, is an appetizing combination of savory and sweet. I like to serve this over couscous, preferably whole wheat, which is the traditional accompaniment. It is also delicious served with fluffy quinoa, which adds a new world twist to this Middle Eastern dish.
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) cumin seeds
- 1 tsp (5 ml) coriander seeds
- 1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 25 ml) olive oil
- 2 lbs (1 kg) trimmed stewing lamb, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) minced ginger root
- 1 tsp (5 ml) grated lemon zest
- 1 tsp (5 ml) salt
- ½ tsp (2 ml) cracked black peppercorns (approx.) (see Tip)
- 1 piece (1 inch/2.5 cm) cinnamon stick
- ½ cup (125 ml) chicken stock
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) liquid honey
- Salt, optional
- 1 cup (250 ml) dried apricots, chopped
- ½ cup (125 ml) raisins
- ¼ cup (50 ml) finely chopped cilantro leaves
Works in slow cookers from 3 1/2 to 6 quarts
1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast cumin and coriander seeds, stirring, until fragrant and cumin seeds just begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Immediately transfer to a mortar or a spice grinder and grind. Set aside.
2. In same skillet, heat 1 tbsp (15 ml) of the oil over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add lamb, in batches, and cook, stirring, adding more oil if necessary, until browned, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.
3. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion to pan and cook, stirring, until softened. Add gingerroot, lemon zest, salt, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and reserved cumin and coriander and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add stock and bring to a boil. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Stir well.
4. Cover and cook on Low for 7 to 8 hours or on High for 3 to 4 hours, until lamb is tender. Add lemon juice and honey and stir well. Season to taste with salt, if using. Stir in apricots and raisins. Cover and cook on High for 20 minutes, until fruit is warmed through. Garnish with cilantro. Discard cinnamon stick.
I prefer a peppery base in this dish to balance the sweetness of the apricots and raisins, so I usually use a whole teaspoon (5 ml) of cracked black peppercorns in this recipe. But I’m a pepper lover, so use your own judgment.
This dish can be partially prepared before it is cooked. Complete Step 1. Heat 1 tbsp (15 ml) of the oil and complete Step 3. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to cook, either brown the lamb as outlined in Step 2 or add it to the stoneware without browning. Stir well and continue with Step 4.
Mindful Morsels: Naturally raised meat, although more costly, is better for your health. Some evidence suggests that grass-fed lamb has 14 percent less fat and 8 percent more protein than grain-fed lamb.
In addition to providing a hint of exotic flavor, the apricots in this recipe deepen its nutritional value by adding fiber, vitamin A, potassium and iron. This tasty fruit also contains a wide variety of carotenoids, the consumption of which has been linked to various health benefits. Enjoying apricots in a stew has an added benefit because their beta-carotene becomes more available to the body when they are cooked.
Dried apricots are available year-round and make a very nutritious snack. Drying removes their high water content and concentrates the nutrients, which means that bite for bite, dried apricots are more nutritious than fresh. There’s just one thing to watch for — most dried apricots are treated with sulfur dioxide, which maintains their bright orange color but can trigger allergic reactions or an attack of asthma in people sensitive to sulfur. I prefer to buy sulfur-free versions at a natural foods store.
© 2006 Judith Finlayson
Nutritional information does not include the optional salt.