There’s something wonderfully satisfying about tender chunks of lamb that have been cooked slowly for a few hours with no more than some finely chopped onion, fresh ginger, dried apricots and a sprinkle of aromatic spices.
The apricots are added towards the end of the cooking time and the whole dish is really easy to make; any leftovers will taste even better the next day.
I like to serve this with a classic basmati rice pulao with saffron and almonds – (you can leave out the fruit if you prefer); alternatively, plain basmati rice will do, or you can wait until I post my recipe for a smoked rice and fava bean pulao – another rather exotic rice dish.
Even if you can’t be bothered with all that and resort to using good old boil-in-a-bag white rice, this spicy lamb stew is absolutely delicious!
BTW, it’s well worth investing in a small (dedicated) spice grinder because freshly ground cinnamon from a stick and freshly ground cardamom seeds taste 100% better than the stuff that’s been previously ground up and packaged to sell.
MOROCCAN SPICED LAMB with APRICOTS
½ teaspoon of ground cardamom
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
2 – 2 ½ lbs (1 -1 ½ kilos) of boned lamb shoulder, cut into 1½ inch (4 cm) chunks
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 large white onions, finely chopped
2 heaped teaspoons of freshly grated ginger
1 cup (240ml) of chicken broth or water with extra for topping up, if needed
2/3 cup (160ml measure) of dried apricots, halved
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of sugar
Toss the lamb chunks with the ground spices (the first 4 ingredients) in a large bowl, making sure they’re evenly coated.
In a heavy pan with a lid (Le Creuset or similar would be ideal for this), heat the oil over a medium high heat then sauté the onions until they’re golden and tender, stirring frequently.
Add the spiced lamb; give everything a good grind of sea salt and sauté until the lamb pieces are nicely browned (about 5 minutes).
Add the ginger and stir for another minute then pour in the water or broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, put the lid on and simmer gently for about 1 hour, stirring at least 3 times.
(If the liquid reduces too much, just add more).
After an hour, add the apricots and more liquid if necessary. You want a rich sauce, not too dry, not too runny. Simmer slowly for another 30 minutes then stir in the vinegar and sugar. Check the salt adding more if you need it.
You can make it ahead to this point – I usually add more liquid and heat it through in a 325F (160C) oven for about another hour until the meat is almost falling apart.
Serve with basmati rice and perhaps a few leafy greens on the side with a citrusy dressing.