Moroccan Lamb Tagine

We traveled from Spain to Morocco a couple of years ago and I fell in love with the rich flavors and exotic spices used in cooking traditional Moroccan food. I’ve tried a few different recipes and even made up my own, but this recipe for Moroccan Lamb Tagine from is one of the best Tagines I’ve made. It has a lot of ingredients, but after making the Ras El Hanoud, the traditional Moroccan spice blend, and marinating the meat overnight, the rest goes fairly quickly. If you don’t have time to marinate overnight, 30 minutes to an hour will do.

If you love cooking exotic fare, be sure to buy a traditional Tagine. The conical cover of the vessel allows the juices and flavors of the meat and vegetables to circulate and enhance the flavor of the dish. You’ll be tempted to open the top to peek, but don’t do it until at least halfway through the cooking time. I waited 1 1/2 hours before opening the top to check on it.

I’ve used store-bought Tagine Spice before, but take the time to make the spice blend yourself. The result is a complexity of flavors that only comes from making it from scratch.

I’m happy to report that of all the spices in the list, the only one that was not in my pantry was the Cardamom. Making this recipe also gave me the chance to clean out old jars of spices I’ve had for a bit too long. You should replace spices in your pantry after about 2 years.

To serve, bring the Tagine to the table. Your guests will love this exotic presentation, and your home will be filled with its fragrant aroma.


Moroccan Lamb Tagine
For the Ras El Hanoud (Moroccan Spice Blend)
2 Tbsp. Paprika
¼ tsp. Tumeric
½ tsp. Ground Cumin
¼ tsp. Cayenne
1 tsp. Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Ground Cloves
½ tsp. Ground Cardamom
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
½ tsp. Ground Ginger
Pinch of Saffron
¾ tsp. Garlic Powder
¾ tsp. Ground Coriander
Other Ingredients
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 pounds lamb meat, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes – or 3 medium sized lamb shanks
2 medium onions, sliced
5 carrots, peeled and sliced into ½ inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. freshly ground ginger
1 lemon, zested
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. cornstarch (optional)
1 Tbsp. water (optional)
10 dried apricots
Pine nuts
Parsley sprigs
1.    Place lamb in a bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and set aside. In a large resealable bag, toss together the paprika, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, salt, ginger, saffron, garlic powder and coriander. Mix well. Add the lamb to the bag, and toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

2.    Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add 1/3 of the lab, and brown well. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining lamb. Add onions and carrots to the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the fresh garlic and ginger, continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Return the lamb to the pot and stir in the lemon zest, chicken broth, tomato paste, apricots and honey. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 ½ – 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is fork tender.

3.    If the consistency is too thin, you may thicken it with a mixture of cornstarch and water during the last 5 minutes.

4.    Garnish with pine nuts and parsley and serve with couscous.
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