Lamb and Vegetable Tagine With Dried Fig Couscous
Thanks to Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey for thinking up this great Middle-Eastern cuisine round-up! The Arabian Nights theme is actually perfect for me since I live in the largest Arabic-speaking neighborhood in Milan. There's a mosque around the block and a Halal butcher on every corner, so the cuisine is very accessible. Our Moroccan grocers around the block are the only Halal butchers to carry Merguez sausage (my favorite!), cracked Moroccan green olives and preserved lemons, so I go to them a lot. The other day, for a 10-person dinner party I made a lamb and vegetable tagine perfumed with preserved lemons, cumin, cayenne and cinnamon.
1 cup dried chick peas (or other beans. I actually used unorthodox black beans here)
1 bay leaf
2 lbs lamb shoulder
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
at least 4 cups stock (chicken, beef or lamb all work well here)to cover all other ingredients
4 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 medium potatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup cracked Moroccan green olives
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsps cumin
2 tsps cinnamon
1 medium preserved lemon, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsps honey
The day before you make the tagine, soak the chick peas in water over night. The next day, boil them with a bay leaf for 2 hours or until tender. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, heat the oil over a high flame and sear the lamb pieces on all sides. Remove from the pot and add the onions. Reduce heat to medium and sautee until they are soft and brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and immediately add the lamb pieces back into the pot. Add the 4 cups of stock or more to cover. Bring to a boil then lower heat to just a simmer (medium-low). Let simmer for 1 hour. Add the carrots and continue simmering for another 15 minutes. Add extra stock or water to keep everything covered. Add the drained chick peas, the olives, the potatoes, the honey and all the spices and cook another 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are done. Turn off heat.
Dried Fig Couscous
1/2 cup dried figs, in a 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup raisins
5 cups chicken, beef or lamb stock
4 cups fine-grain couscous
salt to taste
Heat the stock with the fruit in it to the boiling point, take off heat and pour over the couscous. Stir to make sure all the grains have been incorporated. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
To serve, spoon out a mound of couscous on each plate and ladle the lamb tagine on top. Music to eat couscous by: the Italian song "Notti Arabe" by Amir. Check out the lyrics all about the sensuality of love and Middle Eastern food! Enjoy!