Lamb shank and fig tagine

Lamb shank and fig tagine

Cut the Carbs!

Most of the tagines I ate in Marrakech were elegant trios – lamb, prune and onion, or chicken, peppers and lemon – and yet they fell flat. It may have been the heat. Stewed meats are just not what I fancy when the mercury is tipping 40˚C. What follows is by no means a muffled braise, but a busy jumble of spices and textures. And to me this aromatic combination of slow-cooked lamb and vegetables has swiftly become the perfect wintry Sunday night supper. It’s self-contained enough to justify pulling the slow cooker down from the top of the cupboard, or dusting off the casserole dish. I find that the chickpeas bobbing about in here are perfectly filling and all I need is a splash of yoghurt and a dab of harissa to make it sing. If you really crave something strapping as a base, try it with some quinoa or some plain Cauliflower ‘Couscous’.


Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 large lamb shanks
or 6 medium lamb shanks
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 onions, peeled, halved and cut into slim half-moons
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A pinch chilli powder
750ml chicken stock
A pinch saffron threads
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed
200g dried figs, cut in half

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
plain yoghurt
fresh coriander
harissa or chilli sauce, to taste
quinoa or cauliflower ‘couscous’, (optional), (see note)


  1. Preheat the oven to 150˚C.
  2. Put 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a flameproof and heatproof casserole dish over medium heat. Season the lamb shanks with the salt and add them, in batches, to the casserole dish to sear them. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Sear them until they are evenly browned, then remove them from the dish and set them aside.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil to the casserole dish and sauté the onions, carrots, garlic and spices (bar the saffron) for 5–7 minutes until the vegetables have begun to soften and the spices smell toasty.
  4. Pour the chicken stock into the dish and scrape the bottom with a metal spoon to rescue any flavour that’s clinging to the pot. Add the saffron, chickpeas, figs and lamb shanks, then bring the stock to a simmer. Clamp on a lid and cook in the preheated oven for 3–4 hours, until the meat is slinking off the bone and the figs are nice and soft.
  5. Serve the tagine with yoghurt, fresh coriander, chilli sauce and quinoa or Cauliflower ‘Couscous’, if you need some additional fodder.


  • To make the couscous, place a large frying pan over medium heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 large head of cauliflower, grated, and pinch of sea salt. Sauté for 5 minutes to help remove the raw taste from the cauliflower.
low carb
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