Moroccan Inspired Dinner

an evening in Morocco

Instead of planning an exotic vacation while the world can’t travel, why not enjoy an evening in Morocco at your dinner table. Set the table with bright colors, prepare a meal that will fill your kitchen with spicy aromas and indulge in the mouth watering flavors of North Africa.

Moroccan cuisine, one of the best in the world, is colorful and full of rich, tasty flavors. The use of spices such as saffron, cinnamon, ginger, paprika, cumin, turmeric, coriander and clove brings lots of flavor to dishes without being hot. Couscous is known the world over but tagine dinners are equally popular. Meat, vegetables and fruits are cooked in a tagine which makes a beautiful serving vessel but it not necessary if you want to prepare this popular meal in your own home.

As part of your Moroccan dinner, you could serve a selection of marinated olives and salads. A salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, oil cured black olives and feta, an olive and orange salad, a spicy shredded carrot salad in a lemony dressing or a roasted beet salad dressed with cumin and mint would all be a great way to start.

For a main course, I would suggest a Moroccan Tagine of Lamb With Prunes. Lamb is braised with a blend of spices, orange peel and dried prunes that creates an aromatic stew packed with sweet and savory flavors. Traditionally, it would be slowly braised in a bed of coals in a heavy ceramic or terra cotta round dish that has a funnel shaped lid with an opening at the top called a tagine but my recipe is gently simmered in a Dutch oven on the stovetop until the lamb is so tender and juicy that it falls apart with a touch of a fork. While the ingredient list may look long, you will probably have most all the spices already in your pantry except perhaps Ras El Hanout which I have supplied a link to make yourself if you can’t find it at your local market.

moroccan lamb tagine with prunes
Moroccan Lamb Tagine With Prunes

Lamb Stew With Prunes, A Traditional Moroccan Tagine

Serves 6, adjust the recipe accordingly

  • 2 lb. boneless lamb leg or shoulder, trimmed and cubed into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 – 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • zest from 1 orange (avoid any white pith) cut into thin strips and then into bite size pieces
  • about 5 sprigs of fresh cilantro (coriander)
  • 3 tsp. Ras El Hanout * click on link for recipe
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 c. broth (I used beef)
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper or to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 12 soft dried pitted prunes, cut into halves

Mix the olive oil, garlic, orange peel, cilantro and the ras el hanout together in a bowl. Add the lamb, toss to coat and marinate at least 2 hours. Reserve the garlic, orange peel and cilantro. Brown the lamb in a Dutch oven, in a couple of batches over medium high heat then remove and set aside. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the retained garlic, orange peel and cilantro and cook for a minute. Add broth, scrapping up any brown bits, then add all the spices and stir well. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce heat to low, cover and gently simmer until fork tender, about 2 – 3 hours. Check from time to time, adding a little more broth or water, if needed. Remove the lamb to a bowl, cover and keep warm. Add the prunes and cook until they are very soft and the sauce has thicken. Remove the bay leaf and cilantro stems, return the lamb to the pot and heat through.

**

Moroccan food is often served with harissa. It is a spicy North African sauce popular in Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and Morocco. It is usually served as a table condiment, much like other hot sauces served around the world. 

Harissa

  • 1 16 oz. jar roasted bell peppers, drained
  • 2 dried red chiles, soaked in hot water for 20 min., drained, stemmed, and seeded
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. olive oil

Put the roasted peppers, chiles, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper in a food processor and puree. When the mixture is smooth, drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running, until well combined.

**

Tagines are traditionally served with couscous or pieces of warm flatbread used to scoop up the meat and juices. I served mine with a vegetable couscous. You can also serve toasted sliced almonds and dried fruits such apricots or raisins with the couscous and tagine.

vegetable couscous
Couscous, A Savory Side Dish

****

Until travel can resume to far off exotic destinations, we can enjoy the wonderful foods from those countries in our own homes. I believe you will enjoy a Moroccan inspired dish such as my lamb tagine. The meat is so tender that it falls apart with a touch of a fork and is loaded with the flavors of North African cooking including sweet fruit and spices. For those of you that like your food hot and spicy, do make the harissa to serve as a condiment.

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I travel the back roads of the world, sharing great food and interesting places and enjoyable pastimes.

49 thoughts on “Moroccan Inspired Dinner

  1. This post brings back memories of my trip to Morocco with my girlfriend. Thank you! I remember all the different spices in their market places. Your stew looks delicious.

  2. Love Moroccan food! Tangines, in particular — so many different ways to make them. This looks like a wonderful feast! Nice recipes — thanks so much.,

  3. Looks delicious Karen and I’ll plan to use it if I get back to my around-the-world meals. While visiting southern Spain many years ago, we took a day tour from Gibraltar over to Tangiers and had a very good Moroccan meal for lunch along with a belly dancer. It was chicken, couscous and other stuff.

  4. What a lovely dish!!….I love Morocco, as well as its food and culture!!….we are also cooking/baking dishes from other countries to remember our trips….and continue traveling in our dreams!!….very nice post!!…..Abrazotes, Marcela

  5. The lamb in the photo looks mouthwatering. Tomorrow (2021-01-26) is a public holiday. It’s Australia Day and many people enjoy lamb for lunch.

  6. Absolutely fantastic Tagine Karen…we make a chicken tagine once in a way quite similar to your recipe but have yet to try using prunes. I thrown in some preserved dried lemons that I found at one of the Persian stores here..will remember too add in some prunes next time..

  7. I am with you – I love Moroccan food and this tagine is one of my favorites. I first had t in Fez, and then again in Marrakech. Just wonderful. When we were driving through the High Atlas mountains, our guide made us lunches of bread with tomatoes and sardines drizzled with the best olive oil I have ever tasted. Thanks for the recipe and the memories.

  8. Theme dinners are so much fun and perfect for today’s way of life. Love the Moroccan theme and really love this stew! I’ve seen it many times, but have never made it. We’re huge lamb fans so this is a must make. Thanks!

  9. We love Moroccan food, we were really sold during our two-week holiday there in 2011. I recently made a chicken for an outdoor dinner with a friend, sadly we’re in lockdown again and are not allowed any friends over even outside. Such a downer in the middle of winter.

  10. Such beautiful food! I love Moroccan ingredients, and love harissa! We still haven’t made it to Morocca, but if all goes well in 2021 we’ll be in India, which I’m so excited about. Great post!

  11. Since our trip to Morocco several years ago I often cook Moroccan, love my tagine. This recipe sounds delicious. Keep safe Diane

  12. i love these flavours even tho we don’t eat lamb – but it would be good with chicken too. i made harissa last week with apricots. so delish! and mine was very hot! Moroccan flavours suit me down to the ground… so spicy and full of flavour. One day i will get to Morocco…

  13. What a fun idea, Karen! Laura and I were just commenting the other day how we miss traveling. I like doing ‘themed dinners’ at home, so this sounds right up my alley. We had a great Moroccan restaurant here in town (sadly it closed pre-COVID), but I think making this at home is totally possible. I’m inspired!

  14. You’ve inspired me to get my tagine out of the cupboard. Every time I prepare a Moroccan seasoned meal, we simply can’t believe how deeply layered and complex, not to mention incredible in flavor the cuisine is.

  15. Oh, your Moroccan dish looks very good, Karen, delicious! I’ve never made a tagine, but would love to try it. And it would be great to visit Morocco! Thanks for sharing!

  16. I never got bored with eating tagine everyday in Morocco.
    Your beautiful dish takes me right back.
    Thank you for reminding me to travel through my dinner plate during this crazy time.

  17. I have to admit that your post is having a bit of the opposite effect, in that it’s making me wish I could visit Morocco! But I do love Moroccan flavors, and I am looking for something different to make. So thanks!

  18. My family doesn’t eat lamb, but I imagine I can try this with beef. The spice blend in this dish sounds so aromatic and flavorful!

  19. Karen, your lamb tagine sounds divine and diet approved for me. All the ingredients are at hand, except the fresh coriander but I have frozen. Thus, I have no reason why I shouldn’t take Eva on a culinary trip to Morroco…

  20. I’m so fond of Moroccan food! I just discovered your blog through Cocoa & Lavender and I’m love your pictures! This tagine looks delightful, very sweet & salty!

  21. This looks so good. I have a couple packages of lamb stew meat in my freezer. Now I’m torn between this and Irish Stew! Love the idea of virtual travel through food!

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