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Lamb Tagine with Prunes

Many meat tagines (slowly simmered Moroccan stews) are cooked with some sort of fruit, like apple, pear, quince or date. The luscious combination of lamb and prunes here produces a slightly sticky but complex sweet sauce that's perfect with steamed couscous or crusty bread.

slideshow More Amazing Lamb Recipes

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

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  • 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)


  1. In a small dry skillet, toast the sesame seeds over moderate heat until golden, 45 seconds. Transfer the seeds to a plate.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Make Ahead

The lamb tagine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Serve With

Couscous or crusty bread.

Suggested Pairing

Prunes and honey give this lamb stew richness and a hint of sweetness, which is best matched by a deeply fruity, thick-textured Cabernet blend, such as one from Lebanon or the Languedoc region of France.

Contributed By Published March 2005

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