Is anything more cheering in the depths of winter than a tagine? Contrary to popular belief, they really take no time at all. At this time of year, I like to serve them with a fennel and blood orange salad, some spicy harissa paste on the side and cous cous. Hydrate the cous cous following the directions on the pack, then steam for 20 minutes, for a light, fluffy accompaniment to this heart-warming braise.
750g shoulder of lamb, boned and cut into 2cm chunks
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8 baby carrots, washed
8 small radishes, trimmed
2 tbsp honey
juice of 1 lemon
8 dates, seeded
½ cup green olives
pinch of ground cinnamon
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
2 tbsp toasted almonds, chopped
For the chermoula
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
½ bunch coriander, chopped
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp saffron water (see tip)
1 tsp mild chilli flakes
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1. To make the chermoula, place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz to a paste.
2. Marinate the lamb in the chermoula for 30 minutes, then remove using a slotted spoon. Reserve the marinade.
3. Place a large pot (one with a tight lid) on medium-high heat. Pour in the olive oil and, when hot, add the lamb. Cook for about 5 to 8 minutes until it's well coloured.
4. Add the carrots, radishes (halve depending on size), honey and lemon juice to the pot, along with the remaining marinade and about 500ml of water. It should just about cover the lamb. Turn down the heat to a very gentle simmer, pop the lid on and cook for about 40 minutes.
5. Add the dates and olives and cook for a further 10 minutes.
6. Remove from the heat and rest for 10 minutes.
7. Place some cooked cous cous in four bowls and spoon over the lamb and vegetables, getting the right share of each ingredient in each serve. Sprinkle with cinnamon, sesame seeds and toasted almonds and serve.
Tip: To make saffron water, dry half a teaspoon of saffron threads in a warm skillet, crush to a powder with the back of a spoon and add to one cup of boiling water. Leave for 20 minutes. Store any extra in the fridge for up to a week, or place in ice-cube trays and freeze.