Lamb Tagine with Almonds and Prunes

This deliciously spiced, aromatic stew combines meltingly tender lamb, toasted almonds, sticky prunes and warm North African spices.

Full disclosure: it isn’t difficult to make, but it is prep-heavy. The lamb needs to marinate for at least a couple of hours and you need to blanch the almonds. It takes some time, but I promise you that it’s worth it. The textural contrast you get between the softness of the lamb and the bite of the almonds is truly wonderful. It’s easily my favourite part of the entire dish!

So yes, this dish is a labour of love, but please don’t let that put you off – it’s well worth the effort! Serve and enjoy with couscous or rice, which is my personal preference.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 6 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Meat



For the lamb:

  • 600 g good-quality diced lamb shoulder
  •  tbsps ras el hanout
  •  tbsps harissa spice powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
For the tagine:
  • 100 g raw almonds
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 x 400g tin good-quality crushed plum tomatoes
  • 500 ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 200 g tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 150 g pitted prunes, roughly chopped
  • 1 x 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 large handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped


Marinating the lamb

  1. Place the lamb in a large bowl and add the ras el hanout, harissa spice powder and salt. Toss to combine, massaging the spices into the lamb. Cover with cling film and let sit in the fridge for a couple of hours, or, preferably, overnight. Let sit at room temperature for 30 mins before cooking.

Blanching the almonds

  1. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil over high heat. Add the almonds and cook for 1 minute – no more, no less. Drain the almonds and run them under cold water to cool.
  2. The skins should now be loose enough to remove. Working one almond at a time, gently squeeze the nut to remove the skin. It’s a little tedious, I know, but I promise that it’s worth it! If you have kids, it’s something they can get involved with. Pat the almonds dry with kitchen towel and set aside.

Making the tagine

  1. Heat your oven to 160℃/fan 140℃. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the almonds and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and toasted, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add the lamb and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. The goal is to seal rather than sear the lamb; searing the lamb would burn the spices. Transfer the lamb and almonds to a bowl.
  3. Add another splash of olive oil to your Dutch oven. Add the onion and season with a generous pinch of sea salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, ginger and cumin seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, around 1 minute.
  5. Add the tinned tomatoes, stock, chickpeas, prunes and cinnamon stick. Season with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and stir to combine. Return the lamb and almonds to the Dutch oven and stir to combine. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the tagine to a simmer.
  6. Cover the Dutch oven and transfer it to the oven. Bake until the lamb is meltingly tender, 2 ½ to 3 hours. If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can simmer the tagine in a large pot on the stove, using your hob’s lowest setting.
  7. Take the Dutch oven out of the oven. If needed, simmer the tagine uncovered over medium heat to thicken, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Stir in the fresh coriander. Taste and adjust the salt level to your liking, then serve and enjoy with couscous or rice.


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