Being from India, I always find Mediterranean food very close to home. The earthiness of the spices reminds me of my Mom’s kitchen. The simplicity and freshness of ingredients does most of the job.
Mediterranean restaurants are hugely popular in London. Several times a month we are dining at a Greek, Moroccan or Turkish diner. Next to my workplace is the famous Leather Lane market where we always head for lunch. And my favourite stall to get my lunchbox is always Moroccan or Ethiopian. The former has a cute aunty who serves lovingly and now recognises me, hence I get a little extra helping.
Fantasising Moroccan food when I am working from home, led me to make this stew, which I have been wanting to prepare since long. One pot dish, easy to make and very healthy. Lamb teams with sweet potato, carrots and apricot with warm spices to create this lovely stew. So lets get on with it.
I made this for 2 in a 3.5 litres casserole dish. So all proportions are for this size.
- 500-600 gms of stewing lamb or just usual lamb cut in medium to large pieces. Good to have some pieces with bones.
- 1 large sweet potato cut in rough medium to large size cubes
- 2 medium sized carrots cut in rough roundels
- 6-7 dried apricots, cut in halves or leave whole
- 1 large onion diced fine
- 2 large cloves of garlic
- 1 can of plum tomatoes
- 1 tbsp of tomato puree concentrate
- 1 litre of low sodium chicken of beef stock. Ensure a good quality. If using stock cubes, buy something which has reduced salt.
- 1 large stick of cinnamon
- 2-3 bay leaves
- Coriander leaves for garnishing
- Spice Mix : 1 Tbsp Ras al Ranout, 1 tsp fennel powder, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp black pepper fine powder
- 1 Tbsp honey
- Olive Oil – 1 tbsp for frying and spray for searing the meat
- Set your oven at 160 C fan for 10 minutes. Meanwhile heat a large oven proof skillet or casserole dish and spray olive oil. If you don’t have spray add 1 tsp oil and rub it across the pan with a brush.
- Add the lamb pieces and sear them on both sides for few minutes. It should get a light brown colour. This will seal the moisture and give a great taste. Once done remove and keep aside.
- Add 1 tbsp olive oil in the same dish. Add 1 cinnamon stick or 2 if small or medium size. Now add the chopped onions and saute for few minutes and then add garlic. Ideally garlic should be very finely diced or paste. I grated it finely. Cook for few minutes so the raw smell evaporates and the mixture has become translucent and very light brown.
- Now add all the dry spices and mix well. Roast for few minutes. Ensure it doesn’t burn. Add a little water to combine it together, it will become a little paste like texture. Now add the tomato puree and mix it well. Loosed it with a little water. Since its more raw in taste, cook for 2-3 minutes. Now add the plum tomatoes. Break the tomatoes using the back of the spoon or ladle. Mix all together and let it bubble up. Add 1 tbsp of honey.
- Now add the meat pieces back and coat in the mixture. Add the stock and mix it all well. Add salt. Let the entire mix come to a bubbling stage. Remove from heat. Tightly close the lid and transfer to the oven. Let it stew slowly for 1 hour.
- After an hour remove and check how well cooked is the lamb. If it needs more liquid, add a little stock or water. Now add the vegetables. Now remember that sweet potato cooks very fast. Carrot takes a little longer. So add them at a stage when your lamb is like 3/4th done. If you think lamb needs more time then wait to add the vegetables else it will all become mushy.
- Adding apricots, I added them with the vegetables. You can add just 10 minutes before removing them also. But i like the sweetness to get fused into the stew and apricots to become plum.
- Remove from oven and leave it to rest for atleast 20 minutes
- Then remove lid and garnish with chopped coriander
- This stew can be served on its own or with plain rice or Mujadara. You can also serve it with plain or spicy couscous and tzatziki.
It’s a one pot wonder and makes a great weekend lunch or supper. You can add chickpeas as well or maybe replace it with white potatoes. There are lots of possibilities. The flavours come from the slow stewing of lamb and the spice mix. The honey and apricots add a sweetness against the sharp tomatoes. You can also garnish with some toasted nuts to make it more moreish.
I would love to hear if you try this dish and if you have any interesting suggestions. Till then, eat well and stay healthy.