Lamb tagine with olives, mushrooms and potatoes is a delicious Moroccan style one-pot wonder that is full of exotic flavors. It is easy to make and perfect for weeknight dinners or special occasions.
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What is a Tagine?
Tagine, a traditional Moroccan dish, is both a cooking pot and the name of the stew prepared in it. The unique earthenware pot, called a Tagine, is an ingenuous device created by the Berbers.
The Tagine pot has a circular rimmed base and a dome-shaped cover, that allows for slow cooking of stews to perfection. Meat and vegetables absorb the flavors of the spices and herbs, as the Tagine pot is designed to braise, steam, and bake the dish simultaneously. The pot is perfect for achieving a tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture when slow-cooking meats.
Also, the cover's design ensures that condensation returns to the bottom, allowing the meat to cook in its own juices with minimal water, resulting in a succulent and flavorful dish. To use a Tagine pot properly, it is essential to follow specific rules for care and use.
However, for the recipe, here I have used a cast iron dutch oven, which works pretty well to give great results for this stew.
Moroccan Lamb Tagine
Lamb tagine is a classic Moroccan dish that is traditionally prepared in a Tagine pot. The key to achieving a succulent lamb and a silky rich sauce is in the choice of meat cuts and seasoning.
The preferred meat choice in Moroccan cuisine is lamb, but other meats like veal shanks, beef ribs, or goat shoulder can also be used. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, and the stew is ready when the meat falls off the bone or is fork-tender and easy to break apart.
Tagine recipes typically feature an abundance of vegetables, with the meat serving as more of a background flavor component. In this recipe, I use a combination of meaty mushrooms, olives, potatoes, tomatoes, and preserved lemons to create a delicious and hearty meal. The process of cooking a tagine ensures that the vegetables retain their shape while becoming tender inside.
Here are some notes about the ingredients and substitutes.
- Extra Virgin Olive oil: Substitute with avocado oil or cooking oil of choice.
- Cremini Mushrooms: You can substitute them with any other type of mushroom. Shiitake mushrooms would be great too.
- Salt: Use as per taste. Readymade spice mixes may have some salt, so adjust accordingly.
- Lamb shoulder: Choose from tougher cuts of meat such as shoulder, shanks and ribs. Lamb leg or shoulder with bone works best. Substitute with beef or chicken. Cooking time for chicken is about an hour and use less water. Check vegetarian or vegan options under “variations”.
- Yellow onion: Substitute with red onion or shallots.
- Fresh Garlic: Substitute with garlic powder.
- Fresh Ginger: Substitute with ginger powder.
- Ras el hanout: A Moroccan spice mix that adds a complex blend of flavors to the dish. It is available online or at specialty stores. Substitute with a mix of ⅓ cinnamon, ⅓ cardamom, ⅓ coriander, and a pinch of nutmeg.
- Paprika: Substitute with smoked paprika or chili powder.
- Cumin: Substitute with ground coriander.
- Turmeric: Substitute with curry powder.
- Black pepper: Substitute with red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.
- Tomatoes: Substitute with canned tomatoes.
- Tomato paste: Adds richness and thickness to the sauce. Substitute with canned tomato sauce.
- Potatoes: I use yellow potatoes which are all-purpose potatoes so work well for stew. But red potatoes are non starchy and will be perfect too.
- Olives: Marinated or pickled olives work well. Adds a briny and salty flavor to the dish. Use a combination of colors if you like. This would not be authentic but you can substitute with capers.
- Preserved lemon: Adds a tangy and slightly bitter flavor to the dish. Substitute with fresh lemon zest.
- Lemon juice: Substitute with lime juice.
- Cilantro: Substitute with parsley or skip it.
How To Make Lamb Tagine
**Brief overview below. Full recipe is at the end of the post.
- Sauté mushrooms in a Dutch oven with olive oil, season with salt, and set aside.
- Pat lamb pieces dry, season with salt, and brown in the same Dutch oven.
- Sauté onions, garlic, and ginger in the same pot, then add the lamb back in along with spices, chopped tomatoes and tomato paste.
- Add water, cover, and simmer until meat is almost done.
- Add diced potatoes, roasted mushrooms, olives, preserved lemon, and lemon juice, and adjust seasoning to taste.
- Simmer until meat is well done and potatoes are cooked.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve.
Browning the meat before slow-cooking will give it a better texture and richer flavor. Don't skip this step.
Keep an eye on the liquid level as the tagine simmers and add some water as needed to prevent the sauce from thickening too much or burning.
Wait to add salt until after the mushrooms have been sautéed, browned, and their juices have evaporated.
Also, season the dish adequately to enhance the richness of the sauce.
The cooking time of the potatoes in your tagine will depend on the size of the dice. If you have smaller diced potatoes, you may want to add them later in the cooking process. However, if the pieces are larger, it's best to add them to the tagine earlier on.
What to Serve With Lamb Tagine?
- Couscous: This classic Moroccan side dish is the perfect accompaniment to the tagine. It has a fluffy texture and absorbs all the flavors so well. Simply prepare it with readily available couscous from most supermarkets. Alternatively, use quinoa.
- Flatbreads: Thick flatbreads work best with this hearty stew as they can absorb all the delicious juices. Some great options include barbari, pita or naan. But a baguette can work well too.
- Rice: Although not a traditional side dish, rice pairs well with the lamb tagine. Choose a type of rice that complements the flavors and textures of the tagine.
- Salads: Try onion salad or carrot salad for a refreshing side dish that complements the rich flavors of the tagine.
- Other sides: Roasted butternut squash or okra can also complement the flavors and textures of the lamb tagine. So, give them a try for a unique and delicious side dish.
Meal Prep and Storage
- You can prep some vegetables ahead of time. The mushrooms can be roasted ahead too.
- Store in the fridge for 4-5 days, and in the freezer for up to a couple of months in freezer-safe containers. Thaw and reheat on stovetop or in oven, adding some water if needed.
- Repurpose leftovers to make sandwiches or wraps, but be sure to remove any bones or unwanted parts before doing so.
This dish is gluten-fee, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free and high in protein, making it perfect for those with dietary restrictions.
- Vegan or Vegetarian: Replace meat with beans - chickpeas or white beans. Add vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini or increase the amount of mushrooms. Root vegetables such as parsnips, turnips and carrots are an option.
- Other Proteins: You can also try this with a firm fish such as haddock, cod and such.
- Spices: Add spices such as saffron. Increase the heat level with some harissa. Nigella seeds have a unique taste - try adding ½ teaspoon to the dish.
- Add Dried Fruits: Many moroccan stews include dried fruits to give it a savory-sweet taste. Some options to try are prunes, apricots, or dried cherries.
Place tagine base on a heat diffuser set over a stove. Heat olive oil in the base of a tagine over low-medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons water and cook for 10-15 minutes.
Then add lamb and brown it over medium heat. Add spices, tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, potatoes and water. Cover and simmer for 2 hours, until meat is well done and potatoes are cooked, adding hot water if needed.
Roast mushrooms and add to the tagine along with olives, preserved lemon, and lemon juice. Simmer for 10 more minutes and adjust seasoning. Garnish with cilantro and turn off heat before the sauce reaches desired thickness as the tagine will continue to evaporate the sauce.
Start by sautéing onions, garlic, ginger, and meat on the stove. Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker along with all the ingredients, except for mushrooms and potatoes.
Cook on low for 2-3 hours. Then add the potatoes, roasted mushrooms, olives, preserved lemon, lemon juice, and continue cooking for another 2-3 hours until the meat is tender. Before serving, garnish with cilantro.
Yes, you can make lamb tagine in an Instant Pot. Cook the onions, garlic, ginger and meat with oil in sauté mode. Add spices, tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, some water and cook under pressure for about 30 minutes. Release the pressure naturally.
Add potatoes and cook for another 10 minutes. Release pressure naturally and add roasted mushrooms, olives, preserved lemons, lemon juice and simmer using the sauté function.
Yes, absolutely you can enjoy it with rice too. Although it is more often served with couscous or flatbreads.
Is this lamb tagine good for you?
This lamb tagine recipe uses nutritious ingredients such as mushrooms, olives, potatoes and spices. Mushrooms are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, potassium, and selenium, and are known to support the immune system.
Olives are nutrient-dense and contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, gut-friendly bacteria, and phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory and disease-preventive properties. Potatoes are a great source of complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and several important vitamins and minerals.
Further, the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of the aromatics and spices further enhance the nutrition potential. However, lamb is a source of saturated fat and so consume it in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
More Lamb Recipes
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Lamb Tagine With Olives and Mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 12 oz sliced mushrooms cremini
- Salt to taste
- 1½ lbs lamb shoulder with bone, cut into 2-inch pieces, or 1 lb boneless lamb shoulder
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic grated
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons ras el hanout Moroccan spice mix, see note for substitute
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¾ cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Water 2 cups or more
- 2 medium potatoes cut into large pieces
- 12 pitted olives green or black
- 1 preserved lemon seeds removed, quartered
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Sauté Mushrooms: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and sauté over high heat. Season with a pinch of salt, and transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.
- Brown the Lamb: Pat lamb pieces dry with paper towels and season with salt. Set aside. In the same dutch oven, add remaining olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and brown on all sides for about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a plate.
- Sauté Aromatics: In the same pot, add the chopped onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add grated garlic, grated ginger, and stir until aromatic, about 2 minutes.
- Add Spices: Return the meat to the pot. Add all the spices (ras el hanout, paprika, ground cumin, turmeric, and black pepper) and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add Tomatoes: Add chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir and cook until the tomatoes are softened, about 5 minutes.
- Simmer the Meat: Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover with a lid, and let it simmer until the meat is almost done, about 1¾ hours (time may vary). Check occasionally and add water as needed to prevent the sauce from thickening too much and burning.
- Add Vegetables: Add diced potatoes, roasted mushrooms, olives, preserved lemon, and lemon juice. Stir and adjust seasoning as per taste. Cover with a lid and let it simmer until the meat is well done and potatoes are cooked, about 20 minutes.
- Adjust Consistency: Check the sauce's consistency and evaporate it if it's too thin or add water as needed.
- Garnish and Serve: Top with chopped cilantro and serve immediately with couscous and flatbreads.
- The Moroccan spice mix (Ras el hanout) can be found at Mediterranean or Middle Eastern specialty stores.
- Ras El Hanout Substitute: Use ⅓ ground cinnamon + ⅓ ground cardamom + ⅓ ground coriander, and a 1 pinch ground nutmeg.
- Meal Pep and Storage: Prep veggies and roast mushrooms in advance. The stew can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days and in the freezer for a couple of months. Reheat on stovetop or in oven, adding water if needed.
- Nutrition facts not including any added salt. Spice mixes may have some salt, so adjust accordingly.
- For more information on ingredients, variations, recipe FAQs and serving suggestions, scroll up the page to the blog post.
More Moroccan Recipes
This post was first published on August 18, 2016 and has been updated with improvements in pictures, tips, FAQs and additional enhancements.