Tasty Tagine

I know that I’ve been a bit quiet of late; I’ve been preparing and writing my posts for my Advent Calendar in the 24 day run up to Christmas! I started this ‘tradition’ last year and really enjoyed it. So watch out, from Monday 1st December, I will post something Christmassy every single day!

Anyway, back to today… It’s turned really chilly in Ireland over the last few days, so what better way to warm up, then with a tasty tagine? Back in June, Dr Doolittle and I visited Marrakech. I still remember the sticky sweet, spicy taste of one particular tagine which had lamb, onion and dates in. It was delicious!

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This recipe is based on Nigella’s Lamb and Date Tagine from her book Nigella Christmas. We used diced beef instead of lamb and we used a spice mix brought back from our holiday instead of making Nigella’s. The ‘ras el hanout’ has a wonderful blend of cumin, chilli, paprika, cinnamon, tumeric and other  wonderful spices.

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Ingredients :
3-4  tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp Ras El Hanout
500g diced beef
150g soft dried pitted dates or pitted Medjool dates
150ml pure pomegranate juice from a bottle
150ml water
1 sweet potato
1 red and 1 green pepper
2 teaspoons Maldon salt or 1 teaspoon table salt, or to taste

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Heat the olive oil in the cooking pot of choice (if you don’t have a tagine, use a shallow casserole dish with a lid) add in the onions , letting them cook gently over a low heat for 10 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally.

Add the ras el hanout and turn well in the onions. Turn up the heat and add the meat, turning it patiently in the pan so that it sears equally; this is why a wide, shallow pan is better than a narrow, deep one.

Pop in the dates, pour in the pomegranate juice and water, then add the salt and bring to a bubble. Finally, add in the chopped up sweet potato and sliced peppers. Put the lid on, turn down the heat to an absolute minimum on the oven/range; it’s important that this cooks ultra-gently for two hours.

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Nigella’s relish was gorgeous! The sweet pomegranate cut through the sharp raw onion and added a freshness to the spicy beef.

Red Onion and Pomegranate Relish:
1 red onion
60ml fresh lime juice
juice and seeds of 1 large pomegranate (or 60ml pure pomegranate juice from a bottle and 40g pomegranate seeds from a tub or packet)
salt, to taste

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Peel and cut the onion in half, then slice into very thin half moons. Put the onions into a bowl with the lime juice and pomegranate juice and let them steep for half an hour.

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Drain the steeped onion into a bowl, discarding the too-oniony juice, add the pomegranate seeds and season with salt. Sprinkle over the tagine and put the rest in a bowl. Serve the tagine with crusty bread or cous cous. And by the way, it tasted even better the following day!

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Melissa xx

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