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Chef’s Corner: Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Couscous

By Staff | Dec 6, 2013

Tagine is a north African dish from Morocco which is prepared in a special cooking pot, known as tagine and comes in two pieces. Together, they make sort of a clay oven. Generally, they can be prepared in the oven, and in some cases on the stovetop. They can also be used as serving dishes. Tagine dishes create tender and aromatic flavors due to slow cooking over a long period of time. They can be meat based or vegetarian with lamb being the preferred choice for a meat based tagine.

Couscous or granular semolina flour (the heart of durum) is traditionally steamed in a couscous ere (double stock pot with steam) and fluffed to separate the granules. And most packaged couscous is considered the instant variety and will cook very quickly off the stove by absorbing completely a seasoned boiling liquid until tender, then buttered.

It has been so popular in Morocco for centuries. Scholars trace its existence as far as the 9th century. Even the writer Francois Rabelais was able to appreciate the taste of ‘coscoton a la Mauresque’ back in 10th century.

Couscous and lamb are staples to Moroccan cuisine. In this edition, I choose to incorporate these two essentials into an exotic dish from our restaurant menu called, Moroccan Lamb Shank Tagine with Couscous.

Recipe is courtesy of Chef Aziz of Traditions on the Beach located at 3111 West Gulf Drive in the historic Island Inn. For more information or to make a reservation call 472-4559 or visit TraditionsOnTheBeach.com.

Ingredients: (serve 4 people)

4 cups couscous

3 onions quartered

4 lamb shank

3 carrots cut in 4 in. strips

1/2 cup butter

1/2 head of cabbage

1 pinch saffron

1 lb turnips quartered

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 lb zucchini

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 tomatoes quartered

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

1 teaspoon honey

salt and black pepper to taste

2 cups of canned chickpeas


In the bottom of a double stock pot with steamer, preheat the oil over medium heat. Add lamb shank, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, salt, pepper and all the spices, simmer and stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Add 3 quarts water, cover and simmer over medium heat for an hour and a half. Place the couscous in a pan sheet and cover with water and let it set. Add carrots, turnips and cabbage to lamb broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Then add zucchini and chickpeas. Transfer the couscous into the colander and place it on top of the lamb and vegetables broth pot, and steam for 30 minutes. Dot couscous with 1/4 cup butter during last 5 minutes of steaming. Note: the meat should be fork tender.

To serve, spoon couscous onto serving dish (tagine) and toss with remaining butter. Spread out to form a well in center. With a slotted spoon transfer the lamb shank and vegetables into the well. Adjust seasoning to the broth and moisten couscous and vegetables with broth and serve with a bowl of broth on the side. Enjoy!!!