Friday, 25 May 2012

Weekend kitchen: tagine

I have a confession to make: I'm addicted to butternut squash. I professed my love for it here and I won't rest until I show you a few more recipes featuring this incredible vegetable. 
A big fan of simplicity (duh), I love all sorts of  'cook in one pot' recipes. A dish that cooks itself and involves three processes: chopping, dropping into a pot and stirring is bound to attract my attention. No surprise then that I was immediately keen to try out Jamie Oliver's beef tagine recipe. Butternut squash? Check. Lots of spices? Check. Coriander and almonds? Check. Jamie says that tagine is like a stew with attitude. What can I say? I trust the man and he's so right. The first time I made this dish I was waiting impatiently while it cooked, pacing nervously around the kitchen. And then I tried it, and man, was it delicious. All that flavour packed into one pot! The meat is tender and falls apart, there's a bit of sweetness coming from the prunes and butternut squash, crunchiness and nuttiness from almonds and finally some fresh vibrant coriander. Heaven. Don't be discouraged by the three hour cooking time. All you need to do is some stirring every now and then. This is a perfect dish to cook on a lazy Sunday or when you have friends coming over - give it a try! 

The line up of the usual suspects spices
To make enough for 2 very hungry people (with enough leftovers for lunch) or 4 smaller portions, you'll need:

500 g beef, diced (look for casserole steak)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cubed
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
100 g soft prunes
a bunch of coriander
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 pints of vegetable or beef stock
1 x 400 g tin of chickpeas, drained
olive oil

2-3 tbsps flaked almonds (lightly toasted in a dry pan)
Couscous, to serve
For the spice rub
1tsp salt
1tsp black pepper
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp ground cloves
1tsp powdered ginger
1tsp mixed spice
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp garam masala
1tsp all spice

The first step is to marinate beef: mix all the spices in a bowl, add the beef and massage all the spices in. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in the fridge overnight (or for a few hours, the longer the better). 

Chop up all your veggies before you start cooking and prepare the stock.

 Heat about 2-3 tbsps of olive oil in a big pot and fry the beef for about 5 minutes to brown it. Don't worry about some of the spices sticking to the bottom of the pan - that's where all the flavour is and they are going to form a part of the sauce.

Once the beef is browned, add onion, garlic and chopped coriander stalks (leaving coriander leaves for later) and fry for 5-8 minutes on medium heat. 

Add chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and half of the stock, stir and cover with a lid. 

Simmer gently for 1.5 hrs on low heat stirring every now and then. After that time add cubed butternut squash, chopped prunes and the rest of the stock. 

Stir, cover with a lid and simmer for another 1 - 1.5 hours. Keep an eye on it, stir every 15-20 minutes and add a bit of water if it looks too dry. Serve with couscous, sprinkled with fresh chopped coriander and flaked almonds.


  1. This recipe looks so yummy!! I love myself anything with cous cous and this looks like even the husband would go for it :)

    ps I found you over on A Beautiful Mess, your blog looks awesome funny :)

  2. Thanks for your sweet comment! If your husband is anything like mine (i.e. likes meat) he should like it!


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