Recipes and Food Stories from the African Diaspora
North African food appeals to me in ways that are difficult to explain. I love the flavors–rich, deep, fragrant and earthy. Everything about the food feels, and tastes, just right. Often, the combination of sweet, dried fruits and savory meats, grains and sauces create a very playful dish. A playful and colorful dish. This braised lamb dish is perfect for an intimate holiday dinner, and it will, of course, impress anyone at the table.
To learn more about North African spices and dishes, head over to The Duo Dishes.
Lamb Tagine with Makfoul (Adapted from About.com and Treasures of the Moroccan Gastronomy) – Serves 4
2 pounds lamb shanks, bone-in
2 large yellow onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Ras El Hanout*
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon safflower threads, crumbled
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable or beef broth)
1. Place the onions on the bottom of the tagine**, then top with the lamb shanks bone-side down. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the lamb, including the chicken broth.
2. Cover the tagine with the top and slide into an oven pre-heated to 325 degrees. Bake for 2 1/2 – 3 hours or until the meat is tender and sliding away from the bone.
3. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes before carefully removing the lid. Top with the makfoul (recipe below).
2 yellow large onions, thinly sliced
4 vine tomatoes, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Place all of the ingredients into a medium sized pot over medium low high heat. Cook down for 10-15 minutes, allowing the moisture to evaporate and the mixture begin to thicken.
2. Reduce the heat to low and cook another 20-25 minutes before removing from heat. Serve over the lamb shanks. (The onions may take on a deep, caramelized color if you cook them longer, which would be fine too.)
*This spice is very difficult to find in mainstream and sometimes even Middle Eastern markets. If you get your mitts on it, great. If not, try making a blend of your own with your favorite aromatic spices.
**If you do not have a tagine, you can make this recipe in a pressure cooker or large pot. The recipe we used has instructions for those variations.
Chrystal Baker is a freelance culinary assistant, blogger, and food and events contributor for CBS Los Angeles and Basil Magazine. She is the creator of the recipe blog, The Duo Dishes, as well as her personal site, Any and Everywhere.