Tagine sounds so much more exotic than stew, but that’s what it is, an aromatic, spicy stew, and the national dish of Morocco. Traditionally it’s made in a distinctive pot, also called a tagine, with a witch’s hat lid, allowing the food to simmer and steam, the juices dripping back into the stew so nothing is wasted. It’s not necessary, though, to own a tagine to cook this surprisingly simple and versatile dish that is particularly good made with lamb, chicken or fish.
Peel and chop the onion and gently soften in the olive oil in a medium sized, heavy bottomed pan.
Peel, chop and crush the garlic with a pinch of salt to make a paste. Cut the lamb into strips approximately 5 x 1 cm/2 x ins. Stir the paste into the tender onion, and when aromatic, add the lamb, browning for a few minutes.
Add the cumin and ground coriander, stirring for a couple of minutes so it cooks evenly. If using a stock cube, dissolve it in 300ml boiling water, adding the saffron. Pour it over the meat, stirring in the apricots and cinnamon stick. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently but steadily, uncovered, for 30 minutes until the liquid is reduced and thickened by the apricots.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, checking that meat and apricots are tender. If the meat needs longer cooking, cover the pan, reduce the heat as low as possible, and cook for a further 15 minutes. Coarsely chop the coriander and stir it into the stew. Serve immediately with a lemon wedge or re-heat later.
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