Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday: Lamb Tagine

Hello beautiful people!

Today I'll share with you the recipe for a dish that features prominently in Walking The Edge. The hero in the book, Gerard Besson, is a police commissioner in Marseille. He grew up with an absentee mother and a father who never cared for him, and his solace he found in the council flat two floors up - the home of Khadija Bashir, a widow of Moroccan origin and mother of 3 daughters. Gerard grew up pretty much like her foster son, considers Katie his mother, and one thing he comes to love from her household is her signature Lamb Tagine and Couscous dish.

Here's the scene where he is introducing Amelia to his mother's cooking:

'... Scents—a hint of lemon and the sweetness of cooked, dried fruits; the distinctive, heady fragrance of lamb from the tagine—rose up in a delicate cloud around them as he pried the plastic boxes open. After dishing out two servings, he placed a plate of couscous covered with tagine before her and then sat down in front of his own plate.

"Go on. Eat," he told her when he saw her hesitate.

She took a spoon of couscous into her mouth, and he watched as the frown lifted from her features, and she smiled.

"It's good, isn't it?" he asked.

She nodded.

"The best in Marseille, made by my mother," he added with a grin. He wanted to share that with her, God knew why, really. Normalcy, even some semblance of it, was what he wanted with her. If only for a moment, he'd take it.

"Your mother is Algerian? Tagine is an Algerian dish, isn't it?"

"Moroccan," he replied in between spoonfuls, wolfing down the food and delighting in the spicy taste that reminded him of his youth.

"You don't look like your mother hails from the Maghreb," she said.

He paused, then said, "She's my foster mother, actually." ...'


And now, here's the recipe!

Lamb Tagine


For the spice mix:

Cayenne pepper - 1 tsp
Ground black pepper - 2 tsp
Paprika - 1.5 tsp
Ground ginger - 1.5 tsp
Turmeric - 1 Tsp
Cinnamon powder - 2tsp
Garlic - 1 tsp (I don't use garlic, so remove this if you don't eat it)

For the dish:
Lamb - 1.1 kg/ 2.5 lbs
Onions - 2 large, sliced
Olive oil - 4 tsp
Tomato Juice - 570 ml
Tinned tomatoes - 800g
Apricots - 115g, halved
Dates - 55g, halved
Saffron threads - 1 tsp
Lamb stock - 600ml (or use water, but the flavour is better with stock)
Honey - 1 Tbsp
Coriander + Parsley leaves - chopped

Cut the lamb in small, 1-2 inch pieces. Marinate overnight with half the spice mix

Add 2tsp oil to pan, heat, and cook onions until soft

In another pan, use 2tsp oil and brown meat in batches

Deglaze meat pan with a little tomato juice, and add this liquid to the onions' pan

Add meat and all the remaining ingredients to the onions' pan (incl. remaining spice mix)

Bring to boil. Turn off heat, transfer contents to ovenproof casserole.

Cook in preheated 150degreesC oven for 2-2.5 hours.

Sprinkle with chopped coriander and parsley, and serve over couscous (take one cup water, bring to boil. Turn down heat, add one cup of couscous grains. Cover and allow the grains to puff up, for about 5 minutes. Fluff with fork - you can add a small square of butter if you want)
From Mauritius with love,

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