Lamb shank tagine

Farid Zadi's Algerian stew is rich with nuts, dried fruits, spices and meltingly tender lamb
Lamb shank tagine
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the sweet tomato sauce

  • 900 g tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • sugar, optional

For the lamb shank tagine

  • 4-6 lamb shanks
  • 3 tsp ras el hanout spice blend
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 480 ml sweet tomato sauce, (see above)
  • 75 g pine nuts, finely ground
  • 85 g ground almonds
  • 2 tbsp peanuts, optional
  • 150 g pumpkin, or kabocha squash, cut into 1 cm cubes
  • 2 medium turnips, cut into 1 cm cubes
  • 135 g dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 45 g golden raisins, finely chopped
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp saffron, optional
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander or flat-leaf parsley

Tips and Suggestions

If desired you can prepare the tomato sauce a day in advance.


1. For the tomato sauce: place the tomatoes, onion, garlic and 360ml of water in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

2. Then purée the mixture in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender. Pour the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve to remove tomato seeds and skin.

3. Taste and add up to 2 teaspoons sugar as needed (fully ripe tomatoes should not need it). You should have 480ml of tomato sauce. If you have more, return it to the saucepan and reduce to 480ml, stirring occasionally.

4. For the tagine: trim the lamb shanks of excess fat. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the ras el hanout, one-half teaspoon of ground black pepper, a teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil on the lamb shanks. Rub to coat evenly.

3. In a large, heavy casserole or skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat until it begins to smoke. Add the lamb shanks and cook until browned, 5 minutes on each side. Remove the shanks from the casserole and reserve. Discard the cooking oil.

4. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the casserole or skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 teaspoon of the ras el hanout and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer.

5. Add the tomato sauce, the lamb shanks, the remaining 1 teaspoon of ras el hanout and enough water to cover the lamb shanks by three-fourths. Turn the shanks to coat with the sauce. When the sauce begins to bubble, reduce the heat to very low, cover and cook for 1 ½ hours, stirring the sauce and turning the lamb shanks every 15 to 20 minutes. If you find that even at the lowest stovetop temperature the sauce is bubbling too vigorously or scorching, place the lid slightly ajar. Add water as needed if the sauce thickens too quickly or too much.

6. Add the pine nuts, almonds, optional peanuts and one-half teaspoon salt. Cover and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pumpkin or squash and turnips and cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the dried apricots and raisins, honey, optional saffron and harissa, and cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the lamb to a platter and keep warm. If the vegetables are not cooked completely, continue cooking just until fork tender. Add additional water to the pot as necessary.

7. Before serving, taste and add salt and pepper as needed, and sprinkle the chopped coriander or parsley on top.

Recipe and image supplied by Farid Zadi

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