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Moroccan lamb tagine with prunes recipe

Moroccan lamb tagine with prunes recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Lamb
  • Lamb tagine

A delicious Moroccan lamb tagine that's cooked slowly and tastes both sweet and savoury, with prunes and almonds.

17 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 250g prunes
  • 500g lamb
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 80g butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 5 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 100g shelled almonds
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • sesame seeds

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:1hr ›Ready in:1hr15min

  1. Soak the prunes in water for 30 minutes. Cut the lamb into 5 or 6 pieces. Put the meat in a saucepan with the 2 teaspoons cinnamon, the sliced onion, butter, a pinch of salt and 1 glass of water. Cover and cook slowly for one hour. Remove the lamb, set it aside and keep it warm.
  2. Squeeze out the prunes and put them into a pan along with 5 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon cinnamon and caramelize over a moderate flame.
  3. Toast the almonds in the pan with olive oil and toast the sesame seeds in the oven.
  4. Serve the meat with the prune sauce and garnished with the amonds and sesame seeds.

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Reviews in English (1)

Moroccan Beef (or Lamb) Tajine with Prunes

Beef tajine with prunes is my very favorite Moroccan food, and it also was the one (aside from organ meat) that I was most skeptical about (I still remain skeptical about any organ meat!) when it first was put on the table.

Beef tajine (or beef tagine) is easy to make in the US due to the abundance of beef at an affordable price, but it&rsquos a bit more expensive in Morocco where the meat of choice is most often lamb.

Then there&rsquos the prunes &ndash to me they scream GRAAAANDMA!! But don&rsquot knock them because in this dish you&rsquoll be dying to grab the last piece! We had this dish at our Moroccan wedding and it&rsquos normally served for special occasions such as birth celebrations or weddings.

Don&rsquot let the steps in this dish intimidate you. It&rsquos really quick to put together. Something to keep in mind is that Moroccan food is really a mix of sweet and savory. You might find the ingredients listed to be odd cinnamon with meat? Honey with meat? But it really does work. Don&rsquot be afraid to add more spices than you think it needs. Remember not all spices are created equal and you may need to add more if yours aren&rsquot entirely fresh.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds trimmed boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, halved
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, tied in a bundle with kitchen string
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 3 cups pitted prunes (14 ounces), halved
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon orange-flower water (optional)

In a small dry skillet, toast the sesame seeds over moderate heat until golden, 45 seconds. Transfer the seeds to a plate.

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, combine the oil, lamb, onion, cilantro, cinnamon stick, ginger, saffron, a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, skimming the stew a few times, until the lamb is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the onion, cilantro and cinnamon stick and discard. Add the prunes to the casserole and simmer for 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb and prunes to a bowl. Boil the cooking liquid over high heat until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the honey and boil for 5 minutes. Return the lamb and prunes to the casserole and stir in the orange-flower water, if using. Season with salt. Transfer the stew to a bowl, sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and serve.

  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ras el hanout (Optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (Optional)
  • 3 pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into cubes
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cups chicken stock, or more as needed
  • 2 cups whole blanched almonds
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup pitted, chopped prunes (Optional)
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste

Mix water, paprika, ras el hanout, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and salt in a small bowl. Add red pepper flakes to the spice paste if you want more of a kick to your dish.

Place lamb cubes in a large bowl and rub in the spice paste. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours to overnight.

Melt butter in a Dutch oven. Add onions, shallot, garlic, and cinnamon sticks saute for 6 to 8 minutes. Add lamb with the spice paste. Cover with chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Add more stock if lamb looks dry.

Add almonds, carrots, apricots, raisins, prunes, and honey to the Dutch oven. Simmer until lamb is completely tender, carrots are cooked, and almonds are slightly softened, 15 to 30 minutes more. Add lemon juice. Season with salt.


  • 1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon powder
  • 2 1/2 – 3 lbs (1 – 1 1/2 kilos) lamb shoulder cut into pieces
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) honey
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) ginger powder
  • 3 1/2 oz (100 g) almonds, fried
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) turmeric powder
  • Sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) cumin powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 oz or (300 g) prunes & apricots, soaked
  • 1 cup (250 ml) vegetable stock
  • 2 onions, roughly sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil

Nope! You do not need a special piece of equipment to make a tagine stew. You can use a slow cooker or a large pot/Dutch oven in place of a tagine. I make my tagine stew on the stovetop letting the stew simmer at a low temperature, but some recipes place the pot in the oven and let the temperature of the oven do the cooking.

First you marinate the lamb meat in olive oil and spices. Then you cook the onions and garlic. Add the lamb and brown it on all sides. Add more spices and then cover the stew barely with water. Let it simmer for 90 minutes, then add the prunes, cinnamon stick and a drizzle of honey. Cook for an additional 20 minutes and you’re done!

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Sesame Prunes Recipe

This Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Sesame Prunes dish is a traditional Moroccan tagine recipe (the dish is named for the cookware) which typically includes a combination of braised meat (often lamb, beef or chicken), fruits, root vegetables, and fragrant spices like cinnamon, saffron, and ginger).

This dish is often served at holiday gatherings, weddings, and other special occasions with Mahrash Moroccan Bread for scooping up the meat and sauce. The prunes in the dish soak up the fragrant spices, and long, slow cooking makes for fork-tender lamb. It can also be made the day before an event and re-heated just before the party.

Read about our interesting trip to Tangier, Morocco.

What is a Tagine: Tagines are a traditional Moroccan clay or ceramic cooking pot that is used to make fragrant stews of the same name. They are designed according to ancient slow-cooking principles. The pot works like a pressure cooker, with warm air circulating around the conical lid and condensation returning to the dish below. The tagine is not only the cookware but is also the serving dish and it keeps the food warm. Traditionally tagines are eaten communally by the diners who gather around and eat by hand, using pieces of Moroccan bread as their eating utensil.

How to Season a Tagine:
Before a new tagine can be used, it must be strengthened to withstand cooking by seasoning it. Seasoning the tagine strengthens the tagine and infuses it with flavor. Using olive oil is the traditional Moroccan method for the sealing the clay and obtaining the best flavor for your food.

A new tagine needs to be submerged in water for at least 1 hour. You can use your clean kitchen sink and slowly fill the base of the tagine with water until it stops absorbing it. Place the tagine lid on top and fill it as well. Let stand for 30 minutes to allow full absorption of water into the clay. Empty excess water and set to dry for 5 minutes.

Use a total of three (3) tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons for the base and one for the lid. Spread the olive oil throughout the inner cooking surfaces of the base and lid with your hands. After spreading the oil over the tagine and while it is still wet from the oil, place it in the oven. Set the base down on the rack, and the cone next to it with the wide end of the cone facing upwards. Set the temperature at 350 degree F. and leave in the oven for 45 minutes. The evaporation of moisture creates a vacuum effect to pull the olive oil into the clay which glazes and seals it. Turn the oven off, place the cone lid on the tagine tray and leave the tagine to cool down in the turned off oven.

Care of Tagine Pots:
To keep your tagine in best condition and avoiding damage, try to not expose the tagine to extreme temperature variances.

Do not add cold liquids to a hot tagine and do not set a cold tagine on a hot surface. Do not put your tagine in a dishwasher or submerge it in soapy water. To clean a tagine, use hot water and baking soda. Avoid using soap, if possible, as the clay can absorb the soap and cause your food to taste soapy. If you do need to use soap, use a mild one and rinse the tagine immediately and extra well. Pat the tagine to dry, and rub the inner surfaces with olive oil before storing.

If your tagine becomes scorched, you can try filling the tagine half way with water and two tablespoons of baking soda, let simmer on medium-low heat for a half hour, then try loosening the scorched area. If it is a difficult scorch, remove the tagine from the heat and let it set over night in the baking soda mix and try loosening the scorch the next day.

Tips for Cooking with a Tagine:
To cook with a ceramic or clay tagine, use only as much heat necessary to maintain a simmer. To avoid damaging the tagine or scorching the food, never cook above a low to medium low heat.

If you use a tagine on an electric stove, it is important to use a heat diffuser. A heat diffuser is a stove top utensil which ensures that heat is evenly distributed across the bottom of a pan. This is crucial for dishes which need to simmer for a long time on low settings, and it can eliminate the common problem of burned or unevenly cooked food.

Tagines are also used over a small fire or over charcoal although it is more difficult to maintain the correct temperature this way. You can also use the clay or ceramic tagine in the oven by placing the cold tagine in a cold oven on a rack, and then set the oven at no more than 325 degrees F.

Oil is essential to tagine cooking in most recipes for 4 to 6 people, you will need between 1/4 to 1/3 cup of oil (sometimes part butter). Use olive oil for the best flavor. Using a tagine requires you to use less water when cooking because the cone-shaped top condenses steam and returns it to the dish. If you added too much liquid, it can take a while to reduce in a tagine. You can carefully remove the excess liquid and use a small pan to further reduce it, and then return it to the tagine once it thickens. When cooking let the tagine reach a simmer slowly. Poultry takes about two hours to cook while beef or lamb may take up to four hours.

Avoid lifting the lid to check the food or add ingredients until the end of the cooking process . When you lift the lid, it will cause the cooking process to stop and the heat will need to build up in the tagine again in order for it to start again.

Recipe Summary

  • 3 pounds lamb shanks, sawed into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 medium onions, 1 peeled and grated, 2 peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout, plus more to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • Large pinch saffron
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas
  • 3 cups pumpkin or butternut squash chunks
  • 3/4 cup pitted prunes, halved
  • Homemade Pita Bread, or lavash

Coat lamb with grated onion, ras el hanout, and salt and pepper. Marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a wide, heavy-bottomed pan. Add meat, and brown lightly on all sides. Add saffron, 3 cups water, and cinnamon stick bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, for 1 1/2 hours.

Let cool slightly, and remove shanks. Pull meat from bones, keeping pieces as large as possible discard fat, gristle, and bones. Season with salt and pepper. Skim fat from liquid, or refrigerate overnight, and remove fat. Refrigerate meat.

In a medium saute pan, heat 1 teaspoon butter and 1 teaspoon oil. Add sliced onions, and sprinkle with sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes, tossing or stirring only when brown. Turn heat to low, and cook until onions are very soft and brown, about 20 more minutes.

Add tomatoes and cooking liquid from the lamb, and bring to a boil. Add meat, chickpeas, and pumpkin or squash, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove lid, stir in prunes, and simmer until thick, about 15 to 20 more minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve immediately with harissa sauce and lavash or pita bread.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

Do something different for your weeknight dinner with the family. Serve something exotic, and yet easy to pull off at home. This incredibly flavorful Moroccan Lamb Tagine is the perfect warm casserole for a cold day.

A tagine meal might sound sophisticated, but it’s really just a slow-simmered Moroccan stew. This classic Moroccan lamb tagine recipe gets vibrant flavors from a colorful array of warming spices, dried fruits and aromatic lamb. The spices and layers of flavors range from sweet to salty to spicy, but all perfectly balanced and working in unison to make your taste buds dance.

The name tagine also refers to the pot that the stew is cooked in. The pot is made of heavy clay. The domed lid traps the steam and sends the moisture back to the pot, ensuring that food is cooked to tender perfection. Serve this mouthwatering Moroccan lamb tagine over airy couscous to complete your African feast.

If you don’t have a tagine you can still enjoy this meal by using a Dutch Oven or a large, shallow, thick-bottomed, covered skillet. The greatest thing about this recipe is that it’s only 15 minutes of your active time, the rest you are just waiting for the Moroccan magic to happen and inhaling the wonderful blend of warm spices that will make your house smell amazing.

Saffron and cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg, tangy apricots, lemon zest and honey, make this meal stand out with lots of aromatic sauce to mop up with pita or naan bread.


I'm going say a huge thank you to dkgaliz from France for reviewing the recipe from "a cook from Washington". I followed his/her morrocan recipe and method including a day of marinating but added apricots to the prunes. Otherwise I did everything recommended using my slow cooker initially on the cook top. I digressed from him/her at the end - once the prunes were done I recombined all ingredients and put the lot in the slowcooker on low for the last 30 minutes - the lamb was perfectly tender and not boiled at all. served with coriander, toasted sesame and toasted almonds on top I served it with yoghurt mixed with cumin mint and coriander. Was a Hit.

I'm going to commit a faux-pas and leave a review for this recipe even though I didn't make it as written. In fact, I wanted to thank "A cook from Washington DC" for the recipe in his/her comment because that's the one I made and it was amazing! I eyeballed the spices and tasted for seasoning, adjusting as I went, but the instructions and ingredient list (albeit without quantities) made for a great meal that everyone raved about!

Recipe was nice, honey made it a little sweeter than I wanted. Important note for in regards to saffron and turmeric. in general I would NEVER waste saffron if the recipe called for turmeric. And if a recipe called for saffron - then the other spices should be very mild and gentle (like this recipe) or else the turmeric will take over (color and taste) and you'll have wasted your saffron.

Lamb tagine with prunes is a great moroccan dish. Unfortunately, this recipe is anything but a tagine. What a disappointment and what a shame. The traditional moroccan recipe is so simple though, and so succulent that it doesn't need any update from "these days innovative cooks"!! The authentic moroccan tradition calls for marinating the lamb beforehand (in olive oil, safran, cuman, paprika, chopped parsley, and salt and peper), then searing it in some olive oil until brown. Remove the meat on the side, then cook onions in its fat until translucide, then garlic, then bring back the lamb, add spices (salt, peper, cuman, paprika). Bearly cover with water, bring to a boil, then let simmer until the lamb is very very tender. ON THE SIDE, put the prunes in a cup or so of the liquid the meat is cooking in (when it's almost done). Over medium heat, add honey and cinnamon and an optional drop or two of orange flower water, and cook until the prunes are tender (but not too much) and liquid has thickened. When it is done, remove the meat (only) from the heat, add the prunes and their sauce to the remaining liquid, let reduce, then adjust the seasoning by adding salt and peper if necessary, cinnamon, chopped parsley and almonds (blanched in boiling water for a few seconds, skin removed, then heated with a little bit of olive oil until golden brown and fragrant). Serve the lamb with the prunes sauce on top and then sprinkle with some sesame seeds if you wish. I'm no professional cook, I'm just a moroccan, and this is how I always cook my lamb tagine, and how I always saw my mother and other moroccan women do. No wine, no boiled meat, and no bland flavors.


  1. Volabar

    Interestingly :)

  2. Hwitcomb

    I'm sorry, but in my opinion, you are wrong. I'm sure.

  3. Shaktinris

    In my opinion, someone has already said, but I cannot share the link.

  4. Kallita

    I am finite, I apologize, but this answer does not come close to me. Who else can say what?

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