Tagine is an iconic dish, able to made with all sorts of meat and vegetables. But where does it come from! Most people who like Moroccan cooking know what a tagine is. It’s a special clay pot which is used to make exquisite slow cooker meals. But then there is also the tagine dish, the history of which is still a topic of debate. Moroccan cuisine has had quite a few influences over the centuries, ranging from the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans, right through to the Arabic nations, the French and the Spanish! So sources still seem to be uncertain about who to give the credit to when it comes to the origin of the famous tagine dish.
However, through some research I have discovered that there is no such thing as a “standard tagine”. Tagine is quite different in each region of Morocco, and one particular source insists that for the best tagine all visitors have to go to the Imazighen regions of Morocco – where the cooks stick to the traditional roasting over hot charcoal method and slow cook their tagines for hours. Phew! Until I became curious about tagine and decided to do some research I never would have known what an interesting and diversified dish it could be! It makes me want to travel to taste all the unique flavours of it, and to savour each particular regional influence on the dish! It goes to show that what we might think of as simple or common can have the most fascinating of stories. If someone happen to know more about this particular cuisine or this particular dish, I would love to hear it. I want to be more educated about all sorts of foods!
This particular tagine was not made in the traditional method, but was made using our old slow cooker. It still turned out to be superb. It also introduced me to the spice blend called harissa, which includes things like chilli, paprika, mint and garlic, cumin, and more. It seems to differ depending on the spice blend, but the blend I have packs a flavour punch! Delicious! I wish I had the chance to marinate the meat overnight in the spices, because I think that would have made it even more delicious. But it was still lovely after a couple of hours in the slow cooker. I could only imagine how fantastic it would be when cooked in a proper tagine pot! You could also do this dish with beef, as I think it would work quite well like that.
I made sure not to get a lot of olives in the serving above, if only because I was then going to be eating it and I’m not the biggest olive fan! But if you are then you could even add a bit more, as it’s only a stir-through at the end ingredient. Feel free to change it up a bit and see how you like it for this Fiesta Friday!
The Australian Women’s Weekly Slow Cooker
Lamb Tagine with Harissa and Green Olives
Serves: 6-8, Prep: 20-30 mins, Cook: 4+ hrs
- 1.2kg diced lamb
- 1 red onion, coarsely grated
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
- 1 cinnamon stick, halved
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/3 cup/80ml olive oil
- 1 tbsp harissa
- 800g canned diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup/70g tomato paste
- 1/4 cup/125ml beef stock
- 400g canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1/2 cup/90g small green olives
- 2 tsp preserved lemon rind, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
- Combine the lamb, onion, garlic, coriander, spices and half the oil in a bowl and toss to combine,
- Heat remaining oil in a large frypan, and cook the lamb in batches until browned all over.
- Transfer the lamb to a 4.5lt capacity slow cooker, making sure to tip in all the juices from the frypan.
- Stir in the harissa, the canned tomatoes and tomato paste, the stock and chickpeas and honey.
- Cook, covered, for up to 5 hrs. I cooked mine on high although the recipe said to do it on low. Our slow cooker isn’t all that powerful, hence setting it to high.
- Once the lamb is softened, remove the cinnamon stick halves and stir in the olives and preserved lemon rind. Season to taste and serve, sprinkled with the mint.