Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Slow Cooker Sweet Aromatic Lamb Tagine

This recipe is one that I've tinkered with, but essentially it's a bastardised version of a recipe from Nigella Lawson's book 'Feast'.

Strictly speaking it can't be called a Tagine as it's not cooked in one, but I don't have one so there! Nigella places her recipe under the heading 'Funeral Feasts' but don't let that put you off. As a family we eat this meal very regularly - a lot more regularly than we attend funerals thankfully.

Despite owning heaps of cookery books, I am not great at following recipes (or, I suspect, writing them). I'm a kind of 'make-it up as I go along' kind of girl, so measurements are vague, but are not too important in this recipe - it's quite forgiving. Nigella uses honey (which I detest) and molasses (which I sometimes add but to be honest the fruit makes it sweet enough).

Serves 3-4


Approx 500g diced lamb (as it's slow cooked you can get away with more economical cuts, I often use neck fillet, you can also use leftover roast lamb, but obviously don't cook for as long)
1 red onion - sliced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice / all spice
2 star anise
1 pint hot water
1 large glass red wine
1/2 tube tomato puree
1/4 teaspoon chopped chili (I use the tubes from Gourmet Garden - what's the point in chopping chili?!)
Handful dried apricots - halved
Handful dried prunes - halved.


Gently fry the onion in a pan to soften it slightly.  Add the lamb and stir. Once the meat is sealed and browned lightly on all sides, add the spices (except the anise stars).  Stir well until all the meat and onion is coated in the spices.  Careful not to burn it at this point as it will make the finished dish bitter.

In a jug, mix the hot water, tomato puree, chili and wine together until all the puree has dissolved.

Add the liquid to the pan, and turn up the heat.  Bring to the boil and leave to bubble for about 5 minutes, so the liquid reduces slightly and the alcohol burns off.

Place the star anise in the slow cooker and pour over the meat, onion and sauce.  Place lid on and cook for at least 5 hours - preferably longer.  Approximately 2 hours before serving, add the apricots and prunes.  If you add these at the beginning you'll find they soak up all the liquid and you'll constantly be topping up.

If the dish is drying out at all, add a little more water and stir.

I serve this with lime and coriander couscous, which offsets the sweetness of the meat - add the juice and zest of one lime to dried couscous, and stir in a handful of chopped fresh coriander. Then make up as normal with boiling water.

I promise this tastes nicer than it looks!

A perfect winter-warmer recipe. In my book any food you can eat out of a big bowl, shovelling down without the need for a knife is great comfort food!  Even mixed with the couscous this freezes and re-heats well - when Ruby was smaller I used to pot up small portions of this and pop them in the freezer.
This is a real family favourite - everyone is always guaranteed to clear their plates.  I love it because it is maximum taste with minimum effort, as it cooks it fills the house with delicious aromatic spicy scents.  It's also a great way of sneaking fruit into my daughter without her knowing - never in a million years would she willingly eat a prune!!



  1. pauline @ kiddiequip20 December, 2010 18:28

    I made this for the fam tonight and it was a real winter warmer treat.

    If I'm being brutally honest, I tasted it midway through cooking (before the fruit went in) and wasn't sure I liked it although to be fair I think I had also burnt the spices slightly at the early stage. However, what a difference after the fruit had been added for a couple of hours.

    This was easy to make and went down really well with everyone. The lime coscous goes perfectly with it.

    Thank you for sharing, we'll def be having this again xx

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