Tropical Harissa Lamb “Tagine”

This is another one of my variations on a theme. You will need some good quality Harissa paste, preferably made in North Africa and not Wigan. Harissa pastes vary from warm to volcanic, so you need to source one that matches your tastebuds.

You will need for two people:

Stage 1

About 400g of lamb, strangely here lamb is not easy to get hold of, so I am using lamb leg chops, trimmed and de-boned.

Cut the lamb up into bite size pieces and add it to a Pyrex bowl. Take a level-ish tablespoon of Harissa paste add it the bowl and mix, making sure that the lamb is covered. Cover the bowl with cling film and put this in the fridge. If you do this at lunchtime for an evening meal the marinade will have had enough time to work. I am about to do this now.

Stage 2

1 ripe mango

1 honey dew melon

1 orange

1 lemon

A finely chopped red onion.

Some olive oil.

2 cloves of garlic finely diced.

A two-inch piece of ginger cut into matchsticks.

50g of uncooked pistachio kernels

50g of flaked almonds

50g of dried apricots, cut in half.

50 grams of sultanas

3 carrots peeled and chopped into “coins”.

A tin of finest quality chopped tomatoes.

A glass of red wine

500g of lamb stock

Maybe a little cornflour

A casserole with a well-fitting lid

A pot of Greek yoghurt

Some cucumber

Some mint

Some Sicilian lemon juice.

A pinch of salt

A sprinkle of paprika

A mug of three grain rice.


Take the lamb out of the fridge. Put a large pan on your newly fitted induction hob, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, turn up the welly to about 11/15. Remember this hob is a lot more powerful than you think! When the oil starts to swirl add the lamb and brown slightly, taking care not to burn the harissa. If it looks like it is too hot, put your finger on the darned slider control and drop the heat to 8/15. When the lamb is browned add it to the casserole. Pour the glass of wine into the pan and de-glaze it. Add the wine to the casserole making sure that you get all the lovely harissa in too. If there is any left in the Pyrex dish add this to the casserole.

Peel the mango and chop it into thumb sliced slices, add these to the casserole,

Cut the honey dew melon in half. Wrap one half in cling film and put it in the fridge. Cut the other half into three lengthwise pieces. De-seed the pieces and extract cubes of melon off the skin. The cubes should be about an inch in size. Don’t stress if they aren’t all the same size. Add these to the casserole.

Add to the casserole the onion, the garlic, the ginger, the pistachios, almonds, apricots, sultanas, the carrots and the chopped tomatoes.

Put the kettle on to make the lamb stock.

Peel “skin grafts” off the orange and the lemon, about 1mm deep. Slice these into match sticks about half an inch long. These will give a lovely zesty aroma and taste to the “Tagine”. Add these to the pot.

Make up 500ml of lamb stock and use some of the boiled water to rinse out the tomato can, add the tomato juices to the casserole.

Stir the contents of the casserole. Now add the lamb stock until the contents are covered such that there is about 1cm of liquid above them. During the cooking the apricots and the sultanas will absorb some of the juices. You may need to top up with boiling water as you go.

Put the oven on at 180 Celsius. Close the casserole off with a lid and bring to the boil in the oven at 180. The moment it is bubbling, turn the heat down to 150 Celsius and cook for at least one and a half hours. The longer the better. Check the casserole every half hour and give it a stir. If needed add a drop of boiling water.

Now finely chop some cucumber into 1 cm by 2mm by 4mm mini chunks. You will need about a quarter of a medium size cucumber. Finely chop some mint until you have about a tablespoon of it. Put the cucumber and mint into a bowl with a pinch of salt. Add about 150ml of Greek yoghurt. Stir well. If you think it needs it add the lemon juice to taste. I personally like the combo of lemon yoghurt and a hint of salt. When you are good to go sprinkle some paprika decoratively on the surface of the yoghurt mix.

Put the kettle back on and boil some water.

Do your last casserole check and then cook your three grain rice according to the instructions.

Just before nose down elbows up, get the casserole out of the oven and check its consistency. If it is a little too runny add some cornflour in water. A teaspoon of flour to a tablespoon of water, is about right. Stir this into the casserole and return to the oven for about 5 mins. If not, don’t do this…

Go to the CD player put on some North African music at dining volume levels.

Now serve the rice and tagine in as artistic a manner as you can manage and offer the yoghurt as a cooling side. {This is important if you have used volcanic harissa.}


Oh yeah, watch out for the mangoes and apricots they retain the heat of the sauce and can burn the tongue….