Spain’s food reflects its complicated history and the incursions of its many settlers; Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs and Moors have all left their mark on its cuisine. The further north you travel the influences become more European and the further south you go the flavors and ingredients are more associated with Morocco and North Africa. Almonds, olive oil, dates, orange blossom water and the use of spices become slightly more important. I have to admit that I have always loved Middle Eastern cuisine and find the spice blends and flavor combinations incredibly intoxicating.
When food writer Claudia Roden first published “The Middle Eastern Cookbookin 1972, the cuisines of Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Egypt and their neighbors were a mystery to most of us. His celebrated groundbreaking book Arabic cuisine in all its opulence and variety from the refined tajines, substantial meze platters and spicy meat dishes and of course, all those wonderful sweet pastries. As she says herself, “every recipe tells a story” and I still enjoy flipping through my very old, battered copy of his book from time to time, generally seeking and finding inspiration.
One of the classic recipes that I like to make is a tajine and they can be made from almost anything from fish, lamb, chicken, beef, goat and sometimes even camel. I’m not too sure of the merits of camel but what they all have in common is long, slow, slow cooking and a lamb tagine with apricots is my favourite. A tagine is traditionally cooked in a special clay pot also known as a tagine. And yes, a real tagine would be ideal for this recipe, mainly thanks to the flavors apparently produced by traditional unglazed earthenware, but if you don’t have a tagine, any wide, shallow pot with an airtight lid will do. ‘affair. fool.
In this recipe I use dried apricots, but you can also substitute fresh ones as they are sluggish right now. Most tagines are finished with a scattering of slivered almonds or sesame seeds fried in a little butter, which adds a nice crunchy texture to the finished dish; the freshness of coriander leaves also adds color and freshness. If you really want to impress; a red onion and pomegranate salsa is also a nice pairing and also brings a splash of color to the plate.
For me, this famous and delicious Moroccan dish, flavored with a exotic and tantalizing combination cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and cumin is all about simplicity and choosing the right ingredients. As with many age-old Mediterranean recipes, it’s not about experimentation, it’s about technique and cooking simple dishes in a pleasantly simple way. I hope this recipe inspires you to step into the kitchen and cook delicious meals with your heart.
spicy vegetable tagine
This flavorful tagine is a cheap and healthy way to add extra vegetables to your family’s diet.
For 4 to 6 people
2 red onions, sliced
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 carrots, sliced diagonally
200g dried red lentils
2x 400g cans of crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 garlic cloves, crushed
20g fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons harissa paste
1 litre vegetables soup
12 Cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
80g dried apricots, coarsely chopped, plus extra for garnish
big bouquet fresh coriander, leaves picked and coarsely chopped
1 Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Hot Fan/Gas 5.
2 Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add minced onion, garlic and ginger cook gently for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly browned.
3 Add the pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots and red lentils and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes.
4 Stir in the chopped tomatoes, harissa paste, coriander, cumin, cinnamon and apricots.
5 Add the vegetable broth and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
6 Cover and transfer to the oven.
7 Bake for 35 minutes, then stir in the cherry tomatoes and stir until well combined and return to the oven, covered, for another 15 minutes, or until the tagine is thickened and the vegetables are tender. tender.
8 Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the tajine with the chopped coriander and a few sliced dried apricots.
9 Serve with freshly cooked couscous or rice.
Simple lamb tagine with apricots and coriander
This recipe is taken from my cookbook – Modern Mediterranean cuisine: sunny recipes from Majorca and beyond.
For 4 people
Cooking time: 1h45
Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus 4 hours of marinating
1kg shoulder of lamb, diced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
100ml olive oil 2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon saffron threads
750ml chicken broth (broth)
600g canned crushed tomatoes
120g dried apricots, sliced
1 teaspoon chopped candied lemon
Bunch fresh cilantro (cilantro), coarsely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 In a large bowl, toss the lamb with the cinnamon, cumin, sweet paprika and cayenne pepper, cover and transfer to the refrigerator to marinate for at least 4 hours, or overnight is ideal.
2 Heat the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, add the marinated lamb and brown on all sides.
3 Add the onions, carrots and garlic and cook gently for 1-2 minutes.
4 Then add the saffron threads, stock, tomatoes and apricots.
5 Bring slowly to the boil, season with salt and pepper, then cover with a lid, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1h30.
6 Add the chopped candied lemon and the coriander (cilantro), check the seasoning and serve immediately.