It sits proudly on our kitchen shelf, all sleek and beautiful and modern. It’s quite different to traditional Moroccan tagines, which are made of terracotta and can be intricately painted (I’d love one of those someday too, but I’m holding out for an authentic one from Marrakech), but what makes mine brilliant is that you can use it on the hob and in the oven – very convenient, as it means you can fry the onions and spices on the stove, brown the meat, then bung it all straight into the oven for its long, slow cooking.
Lamb tagine is possibly my all-time favourite dish, when it’s done how I like it. I don’t have time for watery ones. It must be thick and textured; oozing with onions; sweet and gooey; fragrant but not too spicy. It must include sticky dates, must be scattered with flaked almonds, must have fresh coriander on top and cool yogurt on the side. The couscous, ideally, is lemony, and on the grainy side rather than soggy or wet. It’s my ‘turn-to’ recipe when we have people for dinner, and a satisfying feast on a Sunday.
I’d always choose it over a roast.
I thought I’d try a new recipe and found this one on the BBC. But I ended up referring back to my usual one, by Irish chef Neven Maguire, and so the final tagine ended up as an amalgamation of both. (But I wish I’d just stuck with Neven’s and I will forever more, as we really didn’t like the addition of cayenne pepper, which made the tagine a bit too spicy and obliterated some of its nuance.)
On this occasion I used very posh lamb shoulder from a farm shop, lots of Marks & Spencer’s Deri Dates and I omitted the apricots and sultanas. It came out lovely and thick and the lamb seriously melted in your mouth. Just a shame about that pesky cayenne.