Mrouzia Recipe - Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Raisins, Almonds and Honey

mrouzia-2219-x-1471.jpg
Mrouzia - Moroccan Lamb with Honey, Raisins and Almonds. Photo © Christine Benlafquih
  • 105 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 90 mins
  • Yield: Serves 6
Ratings (8)

Mrouzia – sometimes spelled M'rouzia – is a sweet and spicy Moroccan tagine traditionally prepared in the days following the Islamic holiday of Eid Al Adha or Eid Al Kabir. Lamb is most popular during this time, but beef or goat meat can also be used. It may also be served for a family dinner or special occasion meal, and it may be made a day or two in advance, as the flavors will continue to improve with time.

A key ingredient in mrouzia is the Moroccan spice mix, Ras El Hanout. Saffron also contributes to mrouzia's unique flavor. The generous seasoning, as well as the honey, acted as preservatives in the days before refrigeration. Fatty cuts of meat were traditionally used for the same reason.

The almonds can be cooked in the sauce for softer texture or fried and presented as a crunchy garnish as shown in the photo. See How to Blanch, Peel and Fry Almonds.

Overnight marinating of the meat is recommended. Cooking time below is for a pressure cooker. Double the time if cooking in a conventional pot, and triple the time if preparing in a clay or ceramic tagine. All cooking methods are explained below.

What You'll Need

  • 1 1/2 kg (about 3 lbs.) lamb (shoulder, neck or shanks) cut into 3" or larger pieces
  • 2 teaspoons Ras El Hanout
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • ---------------------------------------------
  • 2 medium onions, grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped
  • 2 small pieces (2 to 3") of cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups water
  • ----------------------------------------------
  • 1 1/2 cups dark golden or sultana raisins (about 225 g)
  • 1/2 cup honey, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds (about 50 g)

How to Make It

Ahead of Time

Ideally the night before, but at least several hours in advance, wash, drain and pat dry the meat. Mix the spices together and rub evenly over the meat. Cover and refrigerate until cooking time.

If you'll be frying almonds rather than adding them directly to the sauce, you can do that in advance as well. When completely cool, cover the fried almonds until needed as a garnish.

Make the Mrouzia

When you're ready to cook, cover the raisins with water and set aside to soak while the meat is cooking.

Pressure Cooker Method: Mix the seasoned meat in a pressure cooker with the onions, garlic, butter and cinnamon sticks. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to turn the meat as it browns. Add the 3 cups of water, cover, and cook with pressure for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the meat is tender. Add the raisins (drained), honey, and cinnamon. (If you're planning to cook the almonds in the sauce, add them now as well.) If necessary, add additional water to just cover the raisins. Cover the pot and simmer without pressure for 20 to 30 minutes, until the raisins are plump and the sauce is reduced to a thick, syrup-like consistency.

Conventional Pot Method: Mix the seasoned meat in a heavy-bottomed pot with the onions, garlic, butter and cinnamon sticks. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to turn the meat as it browns. Add the 3 cups of water, cover, and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Add the raisins (drained), honey, and cinnamon. (If you're planning to cook the almonds in the sauce, add them now as well.) If necessary, add additional water to just cover the raisins. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the raisins are plump and the sauce is reduced to a thick, syrup-like consistency.

Tagine Method: In the base of a tagine, mix the seasoned meat with the onions, garlic, butter and cinnamon sticks. Turn the pieces of meat so that they are bone-side down and add the 3 cups of water. Cover the tagine and place over medium-low heat. (A diffuser is recommended.) Leave the tagine to reach a simmer and then cook for about 3 hours (maintain a medium-low heat setting, and watch the level of liquids toward the end of cooking), or until the meat tests tender. Add the raisins (drained), honey, and cinnamon. (If you are planning to cook the almonds in the sauce, add them now as well.) If necessary, add additional water to almost cover the raisins. Cover the tagine and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the raisins are plump and the sauce is reduced to a thick, syrup-like consistency.

To Serve

Discard the cinnamon sticks. If the mrouzia was prepared in a tagine, serve the meat directly from the cooking vessel. Otherwise, arrange the meat in the center of a serving dish and distribute the raisins, almonds, and sauce over the meat. (If fried almonds were prepared ahead of time, scatter them over the mrouzia as a garnish.) Serve warm.