Ok, so this isn’t a real tagine because, well, I didn’t make it in a tagine. I used the word in the title because it’s so evocative of the flavors and cuisine I was trying to cook tonight. I do really want a tagine one of these days, along with all sorts of other cool kitchen items I currently don’t have (I’m looking at you molcajete, fancy chopsticks, wok, Chinese soup spoons…) Using a dutch oven is a reasonable approximation, so that’s what we went with today.
We both love the flavors of the greater Middle East/Northern Africa. You may have noticed that if you’ve read more of our blog than just this post via Pinterest. I would venture a guess that dishes from that part of the world make up the highest percentage of our blog, as compared to other regions. Check out some of our other creations… they range from main dishes like Bahraini Chicken Machboos or Syrian Mini Meatballs (Dawood Basha) to Spinach & Feta Gözleme, to some of Ally’s beloved soups like Persian Spiced Lentil Soup or North African Wedding Soup, to delicious snacks like Muhammara and Spicy Feta Dip, and even Baklava! So many amazing and varied dishes! The flavors here tonight are incredibly similar to our Tangy Moroccan Meatballs, which is one of Ally’s favorite meals we’ve ever made and shared on this blog. The main differences between the two are the addition of the chickpeas tonight, which allows the dish to easily stand alone without the addition of another starch, and the obvious fact that last time we made meatballs, while this time we braised some tender lamb chunks. It’s also a bit spicier and a bit less tangy than the meatball dish. Some variety is good! Last note – this, like many other braised/stewed dishes is SO much better the longer you let it sit. Yay leftovers!
Lamb & Chickpea ‘Tagine’
(Inspired by our previous recipe for Tangy Moroccan Meatballs and some additional internet browsing)
- ~2 lb boneless lamb (shoulder, boneless leg), cubed
- Salt & pepper
- 2 tbsp neutral oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large carrots, sliced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 1 generous pinch of saffron threads
- 1 1/2 cups beef stock (or lamb if you have access to it)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 cup kalamata olives, halved
- 1 can (16oz) chickpeas, rinsed & drained
- Fresh cilantro
- Season all sides of the cubed meat generously with salt & pepper.
- Using a tagine if you have one, or a dutch oven if not (like us), heat the oil over medium heat on the stove top. Once hot, brown the meat on all sides and then remove to the side.
- Maintaining medium heat, add the onions, garlic, and carrots to the dish. Cook for ~5 minutes, until softened and becoming fragrant.
- Now stir in the tomato paste, tomato, and all of the spices except for the saffron. Cook for just a minute or two, stirring everything together.
- Now return the meat to the dish, along with the stock, lemon juice, and olives. Adjust the heat to bring to a light simmer with the lid on.
- Cook at that light simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is nice and tender.
- Remove the lid and increase heat to a more vigorous simmer. Add the chickpeas at this point. Cook for an additional 6-8 minutes with the lid off.
- Taste and add additional salt if desired (we added maybe a 1/2 tsp).
- Serve topped with torn cilantro and an extra squeeze of lemon if you’d like. Eat as a stew alone, though you could also put it atop couscous or rice.