Moroccan Lamb or Beef Tagine with Apricots

Christine Benlafquih
  • 85 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 70 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6
Ratings (23)

This sweet and spicy tagine is a savory combination of dried apricots and meat stewed with saffron, cinnamon, ginger and pepper. Fried almonds or sesame seeds are scattered over the tagine as a garnish. Delicious and easy to make, it's a classic Moroccan recipe which works equally well as a family dinner or special occasion meal.

The cooking time is for a pressure cooker; double this time if preparing in a conventional pot. If using a ceramic or clay tagine, allow at least three hours cooking time.

What You'll Need

  • 1 kg (2 lb. 3 oz) tender lamb or beef, cut into 2- or 3-inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions, grated or very finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (or 1/4 teaspoon Moroccan yellow colorant)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ras el Hanout (optional)
  • 1 or 2 small 3" pieces of cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or butter
  • Small handful of cilantro sprigs, tied into a bouquet
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 3 tablespoons sugar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Handful of fried almonds (optional)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sesame seeds (optional)

How to Make It

In a large pot or pressure cooker, mix the meat with the onions, garlic, spices, and oils. Brown the meat for a few minutes over medium heat.

Add 2 1/2 cups of water and the cilantro. Over high heat, bring the meat and liquids to a fast simmer.

Pressure cooker method. If using a pressure cooker, cover tightly and continue heating until pressure is achieved. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook with pressure for 45 to 50 minutes.

(Note: About halfway through cooking, remove and reserve 1/2 cup of the liquids.) After the meat has cooked, release the pressure and reduce the sauce, uncovered, until it is mostly oils and onion.

Pot method. If using a pot, cover and simmer the meat over medium heat for two to two-and-half hours, until the meat is very tender and breaks away easily from the bone. (Note: About halfway through cooking, remove and reserve 1/2 cup of the liquids.) If necessary, add a small amount of water during cooking to prevent the meat from scorching. When the meat has cooked, reduce the sauce until it is mostly oil and onions.

Clay or ceramic tagine method. Slice one of the onions instead of grating it, and layer the onion rings on the bottom of the tagine. Mix the meat with the grated onion, garlic, oils and spices, and place on the onion rings. Add the water, cover, and place the tagine on a diffuser over medium heat. Allow the tagine to reach a simmer (this may take a long time), and then reduce the heat to the lowest temperature necessary to maintain the simmer. Allow the tagine to cook for about three hours, or until the meat is very tender and the liquids are reduced. (Note: About two hours into the cooking, remove and reserve 1/2 cup of the liquids.)

Cook the apricots. While the meat is cooking, put the apricots in a small pot and cover with water. Simmer the apricots over medium heat, partially covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain the apricots and add the sugar (or honey), cinnamon and the 1/2 cup of reserved liquid from the meat.

Simmer the apricots for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until they are sitting in a thick syrup.

To serve. Put the meat on a large serving platter (or leave in the base of a tagine). Spoon the apricots and syrup on top. If desired, garnish with fried almonds.