• Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds recipe. Essaouira, Morocco. Copyright 2014 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds Recipe

Moroccan tagine is essentially a slow-cooked stew made from meat, generally lamb or chicken, but can contain anything from duck to fish. Here is my favourite tagine recipe, Moroccan lamb tagine with Prunes and Almonds, which I learnt to make in Marrakech, Morocco.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds Recipe

While tagines (also written as tajine) are mostly made with meat, we had a tagine with pulpo (octopus) that was sublime in Essaouria. This Moroccan lamb tagine dish is usually cooked in a tagine pot, a glazed clay base and a large conical lid that’s designed to guide the condensation from cooking back into the pot.

In my last Weekend Eggs post I wrote about how there were many different versions of chakchouka — well, that’s nothing compared to the variations of tagine.

For this lamb tagine with prunes and almonds, it’s best to use the shoulder, neck or shank of the lamb. One of the ideas of the dish — as with most stews — is to use the cheaper cuts of meat and render them tender through slow cooking.

You won’t find two cooks who’ll agree on what exactly should go into a tagine as most follow their own family’s recipe, finely tuned in their ancestor’s kitchens over decades.

I watched Jamila at our Marrakech riad in Morocco make this tagine and while I loved the results there are a couple of things that I’d do differently. But don’t tell Jamila – she’s a force of nature!

I like to sweat the onions and the garlic down before adding the meat. Then I like to brown the meat as well. I think this adds to the flavour of the dish.

I made our final tagine at our Essaouira riad, having shopped that morning in the vibrant local markets — and what wonderful markets they are!

I do realize the irony of cooking lamb tagine in a place known for its seafood, but there is fantastic lamb and beef in the region — in fact the meat sold at the markets comes from just 15 minutes away where the cattle happily graze on the lush green coastal grass.

Leave plenty of time to make this dish because it can take longer than you might expect for the meat to achieve that fall-apart tenderness. Think slow-cooked lamb shanks. You can use a pressure cooker if you want, as it cuts the simmering time down to about an hour. Don’t quote me on that, though.

Sad confession: when making this dish in Australia one time, we had to order in pizza because my tagine wasn’t ready at 10pm — even though it was on the stove at 6pm.

To be safe, leave it for at least four hours from the onions hitting the pan to possible serving time – or have your local pizza place on speed dial and eat it the next day.

The best things about this Moroccan lamb tagine dish are that, firstly, it’s dead easy, and, secondly, it will fill your home with the most delicious aromas. Serve it with some crusty bread or plain couscous.

Note; You can buy the Ras el Hanout spice mix online, if you can’t get all of the ingredients separately.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds

5.0 from 2 reviews
Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds Recipe
Moroccan tagine is essentially a slow-cooked stew, made from meat (generally lamb) or chicken, but could contain anything from duck to fish. This is the classic lamb version.
Cuisine: Moroccan
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2–4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 500g lamb neck, shoulder (cut into 4cm pieces) or shanks if you prefer
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced finely
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 mixed bunch of parsley and coriander (cilantro) tied into a bouquet
  • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout (see recipe below)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon crushed saffron threads
  • 1 teaspoon saffron powder (sometimes called “yellow Moroccan food colouring”)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger or minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup of pitted prunes
  • ½ cup almonds, preferably slivered
  • ½ cup of freshly toasted sesame seeds
  1. Sweat the onions in olive oil over medium heat in a large pan until translucent. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant (about 5mins).
  2. Add the lamb and brown all sides of each piece.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients on the list up to the pitted prunes, and stir.
  4. Pop the lid on top and simmer for at least two hours before checking for doneness.
  5. As the tagine gets close to being ready, the sauce should reduce to what appears to be syrupy onions and oil. This, readers, is a ‘good thing’.
  6. When you think you have about an hour to go, try it to see if it needs more seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Add the prunes and the almonds.
  7. It’s around this stage that some recipes add sugar or honey. Taste and add them if you wish although I never have.
  8. As you get close to serving, do your couscous then transfer the tagine to the tagine pot and crank the heat up a little. Try to find that damn bundle of parsley and coriander as you don’t want anyone eating that.
  9. When you’re ready, sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and place the tajine, and the couscous, in the centre of the table — it’s meant to be shared!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 767 Fat: 49.3g Saturated fat: 14.1g Unsaturated fat: 35.2 Trans fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 56.4g Sugar: 18.9g Sodium: 196mg Fiber: 9.5g Protein: 33.9g Cholesterol: 0mg


Ras el Hanout

5.0 from 2 reviews
Ras el Hanout
This North African spice mix is used in tagines and as a marinade.
Cuisine: North African
Recipe type: Spice Mix
Serves: 1 small jar
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1½ teaspoons coriander seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
  • 1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  1. Toast the whole spices separately in a small pan over a medium-high heat. Watch the pan closely and remove from heat as the spices change colour and release their aromas.
  2. Tip the spices into a spice or coffee grinder and grind to a powder. Add the ground spices and give the grinder an extra whiz to combine the spices. You can store the Ras el Hanout in a sealed jar for up to six months. If the spice mix has been on the shelf for a couple of months you can ‘awaken’ the mix in a small pan over a medium heat until the mix releases its aroma.


If you liked this, see my other posts in this series in which I search for and learn to make quintessential regional dishes, including a chocolate snack with a Michelin-starred chef in Barcelona, Rabo de Toro (oxtail stew) in Jerez, and Cassoulet in Ceret.

End of Article


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2018-12-02T10:29:06+00:00By |

About the Author:

Professional travel/food editorial/commercial photographer and food and travel writer based in Asia. His photography and writing assignments has seen him visit over 70 countries. Has authored some 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Footprint, Rough Guides, Thomas Cook, and AA Guides. Photography has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, National Geographic Traveller, Wanderlust, Get Lost, Travel+Leisure Asia, DestinAsian, Four Seasons Magazine, Fah Thai, Sawasdee and many more.


  1. Marion March 5, 2010 at 6:09 am

    Nice blog post and pics! I’ve never been to Morocco, but I love Tagine! Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe. 🙂

  2. Terence Carter March 5, 2010 at 6:23 am

    You’re welcome Marion! You must go there! Hope that you get there some day – it’s worth it!

  3. Heather Carreiro March 13, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Your dish looks “mmm zien” (Moroccan Arabic for delicious!) – I lived in Ifrane (north of Fez) for year and have experimented with several different kinds of tajine, although I’ve never tried one with prunes. Will have to test out this recipe!

  4. Terence Carter March 13, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Zien! We know Ifrane well, went skiing at the slopes near there once! We’ve lived in the Middle East for 12 years and have been to Morocco a few times. That dish is one of Lara’s favourites so it’s the one we settled on, it’s quite popular over all of Morocco and the ingredients are easy to find. For some people the preserved lemons for some tagines are not readily available.
    Give the dish a go, it’s great for winter.

  5. Heather Carreiro March 14, 2010 at 4:03 am

    My Portuguese family does weekly Sunday dinners – when it’s my turn to cook I might go Moroccan on them, bust out the tea set from Fez and everything! Living in Ifrane was a trip. It got SO cold there. One day it would be snowing (even into April and May) and the next you could wear a t-shirt and sit outside.

  6. Terence Carter March 14, 2010 at 6:30 am

    Well anything’s better than endless bacalhau! After a week in Portugal I feel like a walking piece of salt cod…
    My memories of Ifrane are the beautiful blue skies and the damn freezing temperatures.The snow was HARD too. Love to go back one day…

  7. Peter November 30, 2010 at 1:07 am

    What’s the point of having a tagine if you do most of the cooking in a pan and only transfer it at the end?

  8. Terence Carter November 30, 2010 at 1:31 am

    Thanks for your comment.
    Hate to burst your bubble, but most tagines are cooked in a huge pot and only transferred to the tagine pot for final heating over an open flame before serving (I’ve been in quite a few Moroccan kitchens!)
    It’s rarely cooked from scratch in the tagine pot – the pot itself is not easy or sensible to cook in. For instance, it’s very hard to brown meat in the tagine pot.
    These days manufacturers such as Le Creuset have brought out cast iron bottomed pots that make cooking tagine in them from scratch far more practical.

  9. Mohamed January 18, 2011 at 3:05 am

    Thanks for the info, I am Moroccan but I live now in Australia, this is my favorite Tagine ever, ahhh I missed it lot, I tried to make it several times but never turns like mum’s Tagine.

  10. laradunston February 20, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Hi Mohamed – no cooking is ever as good as Mum’s cooking, is it? You must try this particular recipe and let us know how you like it. Shukran for visiting us here!

  11. ISF_WorldRecipe (ISF World Recipes) April 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    RT @nour_belghit: @ISF_WorldRecipe Tajine with prunes(Morocco)http://grantourismotravels.com/2010/03/04/the-dish-moroccan-lamb-tagine-with-prunes-and-almonds/

  12. Lisa February 26, 2012 at 3:44 am

    Love love love Tajines! You are mikang me realizethat I have not made many lately!I own many tajine dishes!!!Le Creuset is great!Lovely post!

  13. Josh March 25, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Terence, many thanks! This is the best lamb tagine recipe I’ve come across from the many on the web, a simple and failsafe way of creating an authentic dish.

    For me it’s fine to leave the herbs in the dish, as they’re all but disappeared by the time it’s done. I also prefer to keep the almonds whole. I don’t bother with the Ras al hanout, because I prefer to add the spices myself – mainly coriander powder, nutmeg, a touch of cayenne pepper.

    I live near Portobello in London, which has a large Moroccan population. So fortunately I can get nice fresh tagine ingredients from Portobello market and the Moroccan butchers here.

  14. Terence Carter March 26, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Thanks Josh.
    As the herbs are tied with kitchen string, it’s a good idea with my version to pluck them out!
    That’s great that you can get good fresh ingredients, nothing worse than old dried herbs.
    I’ve had this recipe with a mix of almond slivers and whole almonds too, it’s really down to personal preference and how you want to present the dish.

  15. Todd B. April 25, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    I FOUND IT!!!! I stumbled across your site & this recipe 6 months ago, made it & it was outstanding!!!! Have been looking for it again for a few weeks & I found it again!!! I have a Moroccan cookbook but this is BY FAR the best recipe- I think its the addition of the ras el hanout- I have made others & it was missing something. Was able to get ras el hanout here in Geneva that gets sent to the king of Saudi Arabia as its his favorite & its quite good & surprisingly not that spendy! On my way to the shop to get everything else- its on the menu tonight!!!!

  16. Lara Dunston May 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Hi Todd – so pleased to hear that. And so glad to hear it worked out well. If that Ras el Hanout is being sent to the Saudi king it must be pretty special. Enjoy!

  17. Brenda December 31, 2012 at 8:44 am


    Just wanted to say thanks for the recipe. We made it tonight and it was delicious.

  18. Terence Carter December 31, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Thanks Brenda, glad you liked it!

  19. Sharon October 18, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Hi Terence
    This was sublime – thank you for transporting us from uMhlanga, in South Africa to Morocco. I added a few extras like fish sauce, chicken stock & a little chilli powder, topped with fresh coriander and served it with cauliflower mash – it was excellent !

    Thank you – your website is stunning.

  20. Lara Dunston October 19, 2014 at 1:49 am

    Hi Sharon – I’ll answer on behalf of Terence, who is busy finishing his photography portfolio site at the moment. Pleased you loved the recipe, though sounds like it became a fusion of sorts with that fish sauce, chili and coriander. The most important thing is that you enjoyed it! Thanks for trying it out and thanks so much for sharing your feedback – both on the recipe and the website. x

  21. Terence Carter August 20, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks for your comment Sharon!

  22. KuziM March 20, 2016 at 8:18 am

    That was great, our lamb tagine turned out great. Great instructions to make it, I would recommend a bit more water as our sauce was great but I burned it a little! The prunes (at least ones I got) I needed to cook them longer (throw them in earlier than the almonds).
    But overall holy shit! My wife is laying next too me happy as fuck after that meal!

  23. Lara Dunston March 20, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Thanks, Andrei! That’s what we love to hear! Yes, you can definitely keep adding a little water if you need to. How much you need really depends upon how high your heat is and how quickly it’s reducing. Ditto re the prunes – they differ in how hard/soft they are all over the world, so if you had hard ones, yep, good idea adding them in earlier. We used to get quite soft ones in the Middle East so wasn’t really necessary. We’ll add that to the recipe. So pleased the recipe was a success and you enjoyed this dish! And thanks so much for dropping back here to give us your feedback. Greatly appreciated!

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