Lamb To Vegetables: Discovering The Slow-Cooked Moroccan Tagine

Moroccan cuisine is a tantalising fusion of flavours, aromas, and cultural traditions. Renowned for its rich spices and diverse ingredients, it offers a culinary adventure that reflects the country's history and geography. At the heart of this vibrant cuisine lies the tagine, a traditional Moroccan cooking vessel.

The tagine consists of a shallow dish with a cone-shaped lid, designed to promote slow, even cooking. This unique cookware allows flavours to meld and intensify, resulting in tender, fragrant stews that have become synonymous with Moroccan gastronomy. Let's embark on a journey through the captivating world of Moroccan tagine recipes, where spices, slow cooking, and fragrant stews await.

The Art of Slow Cooking

Slow cooking is an integral part of Moroccan cuisine, and it plays a vital role in creating the distinct flavours and textures that define the cuisine's signature dishes. The slow cooking process allows the flavours of the spices and ingredients to develop gradually, resulting in complex, aromatic profiles.

Moreover, it tenderises tougher cuts of meat, transforming them into succulent morsels that melt in your mouth. Beyond the culinary benefits, slow cooking fosters a sense of togetherness and community as families and friends gather around a shared meal. Communal meals, often prepared in large tagines, symbolise hospitality and the importance of connecting through food in Moroccan cuisine.

Exploring Moroccan Spices

Moroccan cuisine is renowned for its vibrant spice culture, which infuses dishes with an explosion of flavours. A variety of spices are integral to the culinary traditions of Morocco, with some of the most commonly used ones being cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, and saffron. These spices lend depth, warmth, and complexity to tagines, elevating their flavour profiles to new heights.

Cumin adds an earthy and nutty note, while coriander imparts a fresh, citrusy aroma. Paprika provides a rich smokiness, turmeric adds a warm golden hue, and saffron contributes an exquisite floral essence. Moroccan cuisine also boasts signature spice blends like Ras el Hanout and Harissa.

Ras el hanout is a complex mixture of various spices, such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves, offering a harmonious blend of sweet, savoury, and spicy notes. Harissa, on the other hand, is a fiery chilli paste infused with spices like cumin, coriander, and caraway. These spice blends enhance the flavour and character of tagines while adding depth and complexity to the stewed dishes.

Popular Tagine Varieties

Tagines are traditionally served and presented in a captivating manner. The tagine itself is brought to the table, and the aromatic stew is unveiled, releasing a tantalising aroma. It is common to serve tagines family-style, with everyone gathering around to enjoy the meal. Traditional accompaniments include fluffy couscous, which absorbs the flavourful juices; crusty bread for dipping; and Moroccan salads like Taktouka or Zaalouk, providing a fresh and vibrant contrast. The act of communal eating and sharing a tagine holds cultural significance in Morocco, fostering a sense of togetherness, hospitality, and the joy of connecting over a shared meal.

Tagines come in a delightful array of varieties, catering to diverse culinary preferences. And some of them are: 

1. Traditional Moroccan Tagine: The classic Moroccan tagine is a slow-cooked dish that combines tender meat, such as lamb or chicken, with an array of aromatic spices, like cumin, coriander, and cinnamon. It is typically cooked with vegetables like carrots, onions, and potatoes, and finished with a garnish of preserved lemons and olives. The result is a rich and flavorful stew with tender meat and vibrant vegetables.

2. Seafood Tagine: This variation of tagine features a medley of fresh seafood, such as shrimp, fish, and mussels, cooked with tomatoes, garlic, and a hint of saffron. The combination of delicate flavours creates a light and fragrant dish that highlights the natural sweetness of the seafood.

3. Vegetarian Tagine: For those who prefer a meatless option, vegetarian tagine is a delightful choice. It combines an assortment of vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and chickpeas simmered in a tomato-based sauce enriched with spices like turmeric and paprika. The result is a hearty and wholesome dish that showcases the vibrant flavours of the vegetables.

4. Lamb and Apricot Tagine: This unique tagine balances the savoury flavours of tender lamb with the sweetness of dried apricots. Slow-cooked with a blend of spices, including ginger and cinnamon, this dish offers a perfect fusion of sweet and savoury, creating a delightful flavour combination.

5. Chicken and Preserved Lemon Tagine: This tangy and aromatic tagine combines tender chicken pieces with preserved lemons, green olives, and a blend of spices like turmeric, ginger, and saffron. The preserved lemons add a distinct citrusy flavour that complements the succulent chicken, resulting in a vibrant and zesty dish.

6. Beef and Prune Tagine: The combination of tender beef, sweet prunes, and warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg creates a unique and flavorful tagine. Slow-cooked to perfection, the meat becomes fork-tender, and the prunes add a touch of sweetness that balances the savoury elements, resulting in a harmonious blend of flavours.

7. Moroccan Spiced Vegetable Tagine: This vegetarian tagine is bursting with flavours from a variety of vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and peas. The dish is spiced with a blend of Moroccan spices, including cumin, paprika, and turmeric, creating a fragrant and hearty meal that celebrates the natural sweetness of the vegetables.

8. Lamb and Quince Tagine: This tagine features succulent lamb cooked with quince, a fruit with a unique taste resembling a combination of apple and pear. The lamb is slow-cooked with aromatic spices like cinnamon and cloves, while the quince adds a subtle sweetness to the dish. The result is a rich and flavorful tagine with tender meat and a hint of fruity sweetness from the quince.

Recipe For Moroccan Lamb Tagine


1.5 kg of lamb shoulder, cut into chunks

2 onions, finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 teaspoons of ground cumin

2 teaspoons of ground coriander

1 teaspoon of ground turmeric

1 teaspoon of ground ginger

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tomatoes, diced

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

1 cup of chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup pitted green olives

2 preserved lemons, cut into wedges

Fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped (for garnish)


Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Tagine over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and minced garlic, and sauté until they become translucent and fragrant.

Add the lamb chunks to the pot and brown them on all sides. This will help seal in the juices and add flavour to the dish.

In a small bowl, mix together the ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, paprika, cinnamon, saffron threads (if using), salt, and pepper. Sprinkle this spice mixture over the lamb and stir well to coat the meat evenly.

Add the diced tomatoes and tomato paste to the pot and stir to combine. Then pour in the chicken or vegetable broth, ensuring that the meat is fully submerged in the liquid.

Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot or tagine, and let it simmer gently for about 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the lamb becomes tender and begins to fall off the bone.

Once the lamb is cooked, add the pitted green olives and preserved lemon wedges to the pot and stir gently to incorporate them into the dish.

Cover the pot or tagine again and continue simmering for an additional 15–20 minutes to allow the flavours to meld together.

Remove it from the heat and let it rest for a few minutes. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro or parsley.

Moroccan lamb tagine is traditionally served with warm bread or steamed couscous. Enjoy!

Note: If using a tagine, make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for cooking and seasoning the tagine before use.