(Serves 4 -6)
One can’t go to North Africa without being educated in the incredible array of fresh spices on offer from every street vendor you pass. With the idea of perfectly flavoured meats and spiced couscous in mind, it’s tempting to cart home copious amounts of ceramic tagines and bags full of cheap, fresh and earthy spices to recreate this delicious cuisine for yourself.
As a bit of a compromise, here is a recipe for a Moroccan Lamb Taklia, tried and tested on the edges of the Sahara. It has a wonderful depth of flavour and can be prepared in around 30 minutes, then simmer away for a couple of hours while you dream of a hammock in the desert. Don’t be afraid of the amount of spices used, this is how to achieve the honest, North African Taklia flavour.
1 x shoulder of lamb, trimmed and cut (about 1kg meat in total)
2 large onions, grated
4 tbsp olive oil
4 carrots, chopped and peeled
700g Peas, (fresh or frozen)
6 large potatoes, quartered and peeled
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp saffron stamens, soaked in cold water
600ml Beef or Lamb Stock
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp coriander, roughly chopped
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Spice Mix: (Taklia)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground black pepper
1½ tbsp paprika
1½ tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp turmeric
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 150 C. Place the lamb in a large bowl and toss together with half of the spice mix. For best results, cover and leave overnight in the fridge. Heat 2 tbsps of oil in a large casserole dish. Add the grated onion and the remaining spice mix and cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes so that the onions are soft but not coloured. Add the crushed garlic for the final 3 minutes
In a separate frying pan, heat the remaining oil and brown the cubes of lamb on all sides then add the browned meat to the casserole dish. De-glaze the frying pan with ¼ pint of tomato juice and add these juices to the pan.
- Add the remaining tomato juice, chopped tomatoes, peas, carrots, potatoes, flaked almonds, saffron, lamb stock and honey to the casserole dish. Bring to the boil, cover with a fitted lid, place in the oven and cook for 2-2½ hours or until the meat is meltingly tender.
- Place the lamb in a tagine or large serving dish and sprinkle over the chopped herbs.
Note: We also recommend serving with flaked almonds, and try your own combinations of dried fruits to suit your taste like apricots, sultanas or dates.
From Connoisseur Contributor Madeline Cambel