Moroccan lamb tagine with green couscous
Braising an inexpensive cut like lamb shoulder in the Moroccan way transforms the meat into a thick, aromatic stew of meltingly tender meat sweetened with Medjool dates. The flavour only improves with time – just leave it to cool completely, then place in the fridge for up to two days.
2 tbsp hot paprika
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1.5kg (3lb 5oz) lamb shoulder, well trimmed and cut into 4cm (1½in) chunks
3 onions, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2.5cm (1in) piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
450ml (¾ pint) tomato juice
450ml (¾ pint) chicken stock (page 000)
2 tbsp clear honey
225g (8oz) Medjool dates, cut in half and stones removed
For the green couscous:
350g (12oz) couscous
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
600ml (1 pint) chicken stock (page 000)
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 bunch of fresh coriander
handful of fresh mint leaves
50g (2oz) shelled unsalted pistachio nuts, toasted and roughly chopped, plus extra to garnish
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix together the paprika, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin and pepper in a large bowl, then tip half into a small bowl and set aside. Add the lamb to the large bowl and coat it in the spices. Cover with cling film and chill overnight, or for up to 2 days is perfect.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F/gas mark 3).
Place the onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor and pulse until finely minced.
Heat a large heavy-based casserole. Add half of the oil and brown off the marinated lamb in batches. Add the remaining oil to the pan, then add the onion mixture and cook for a few minutes, until softened. Stir in the reserved spice mixture and cook for another minute or so, until well combined.
Pour the tomato juice and stock into the pan, then add the browed lamb and the honey, stirring to combine. Bring to the boil, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours, stirring in the dates halfway through, until the lamb is completely tender and the sauce has thickened and reduced. Season to taste.
To make the couscous, place it in a large bowl and add 1 tablespoon of the oil and all the lemon juice. Mix well, ensuring that all the grains are completely coated. Heat the stock in a small pan and season generously. Pour the hot stock over the couscous, then cover tightly with cling film and allow to sit in a warm place for 6–8 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed, stirring occasionally.
Strip the herbs from their stems and place in a food processor with the remaining 5 tablespoons of the oil, then blitz to a paste. Stir the herb paste and pistachio nuts into the couscous and arrange on warmed serving plates with the lamb tagine. Scatter over the pistachio nuts to serve.