Culinary Odyssey (part 2) - Lamb Tajine with Prunes and almonds
By Dan Jackson, Exodus Agency Sales Manager
I feel I short changed you all a bit last month by getting the ball rolling with a mere salad (albeit a lovely Ceviche – I trust it proved a big hit) but I wanted to break you all in gently – this month's edition is a no holds barred double bill of delights featuring recipes that are both simple and sociable, but full of flavours we don’t always utilise at home.
Mention Moroccan cuisine and most of us immediately think of Tajine and couscous – well the hot news is that having just returned from a fact finding mission to Marrakech and the Sahara there is a whole culinary world waiting to be sampled and Tajine and couscous, although delicious are by no means all that a trip to Morocco can offer.
There are several different influences in Moroccan cuisine. Berbers in the Sahara desert introduced dates and figs, the Moors bought with them olives and nuts from Andalucia and the Arabs came laden with exotic spices. Take into account the very recent French influence and Moroccans have a variety of ingredients and cooking techniques at their disposal to create some very exciting and flavoursome cuisine.
Tajine is the famous Moroccan stew named after the two part terracotta dish with a large round base and conical lid that the meat and vegetables are cooked in. The lid remains on whilst cooking helping to keep the meat moist and tender. When ready to serve, the Tajine is placed in the centre of the table and the lid removed with a theatrical flourish to reveal the piping hot juicy stew – Everyone then dives in and helps themselves making for a very sociable meal.
My second offering for you is Harira, Morocco’s national soup. During the month of Ramadan the fast is traditionally broken at sunset with a bowl of this lentil or chickpea potage to get the family meal started. I first tasted Harira on a trip to Fez over 10 years ago, purchased from a street vendor in the chaotic Medina for just a few dirhams – I had managed to lose myself in a maze of dark, extremely narrow alleyways but followed my nose and was given the kiss of life by the nourishing properties of this rich and savoury soup.
When the bartering and haggling all gets a bit too much (I know what its like in Waitrose on a Friday evening) then an evening meal of Harira followed by a Tajine will certainly soothe your frayed nerves and aching limbs.
300g minced lamb
150g lentils or chickpeas
100g finely chopped onions
300g chopped tomatoes
50 g celery
Fresh parsley and coriander
Pinches of paprika, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper
1.5 litres of water
Lightly fry the onion and celery until golden. Then add the minced lamb, spices a little water and cook for 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley and coriander and lentils or chickpeas cook for 20 minutes adding water to make a consistency you like. Add the rice, and when cooked then pour in the beaten eggs. Finally add the flour that you have mixed with a little water and stir continually to avoid it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Lamb Tajine with Prunes and almonds
1 leg spring lamb meat stock
400g prunes fresh coriander and parsley
200g almonds tablespoon honey
4 garlic cloves
Fry the chopped garlic and onion in your tajine (what do mean you don’t own one?) or saucepan. Add the finely chopped ginger, coriander and parsley then the saffron and leg of lamb. Fry the almonds and leave to one side
Fry lightly for 5 minutes then cover with your meat stock. Leave covered over a low heat and cook for 40 minutes. Add the prunes, honey and almonds and cook for 5 more minutes.
Serve with couscous to which Moroccans tend to add carrots, courgette and turnip to jazz it up a little. If prunes don’t do it for you then try apricots.