Lamb Tagine - Sort Of
I haven't made this for quite a while - I think I might have bored everyone by making it too often a few years ago. Anyway, I dug out my scruffy notes from way back then and I've decided that I still like the dish. One of the main reasons I made it that often is that, even though it may take a while, it's really easy to put together and very comforting on cold nights. It's not what you'd call authentic, though.
350 g boneless shoulder of lamb, cubed
2 tbsp sunflower or other neutral-flavoured oil
1½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
6 (or 8 if small) dried apricots, preferably the dark, organic kind
Chopped dates, about half the volume of the apricots
2 tbsp chopped preserved lemon flesh
2 tbsp sesame seeds
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
In a bowl, mix the cumin, coriander, paprika and ginger with the oil and toss the cubes of meat in the mixture until they are lightly but thoroughly coated.
Brown the lamb lightly in a frying pan big enough to hold it all in one layer. Add the onion and fry for another 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and continue frying for another 2 minutes. Add just enough hot water to cover the meat, partially cover the pan and simmer very gently for 1½ - 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Don’t let the meat dry up entirely - top up with a little water if necessary. At the end of this time the meat should be very tender and the water should have largely evaporated.
Add the apricots, dates and preserved lemon. Place the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over a low heat, keep the seeds moving and when they start to darken slightly, add them to the meat mix. Pour in the honey, half of the lemon juice and the pomegranate molasses. Add enough water to create the amount of sauce you'd like – less if you're serving in wraps, more if you're serving with couscous. Cover and simmer very gently for another 30 minutes.
Adjust the seasoning and add as much of the rest of the lemon juice as you think it needs.