Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds Recipe from Marrakech. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds Recipe from Marrakech

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This Moroccan lamb tagine with prunes and almonds recipe comes to you direct from our Marrakesh riad kitchen in Morocco, where I learnt to make this deliciously rich tagine from Jamila, our riad cook, and Essaouria, where we made it again for this recipe. A Moroccan tagine is a slow-cooked stew made from meat, generally lamb or chicken, but can contain anything from duck to fish. It’s quintessential Moroccan comfort food.

I learnt to make this traditional recipe for a Moroccan lamb tagine with prunes and almonds – one of our best recipes with nuts – from the lovely Moroccan cook at the riad we settled into for two weeks in Marrakech in February 2010. It’s been one of our most popular recipes since we published it, and one of my favourite tagine recipes, along with this classic chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives.

Morocco was the first stop on our year-long grand tour of the world, which launched Grantourismo, with the aim of inspiring you all to travel more slowly, locally and experientially, forms of travel we’d long believed were more immersive, engaging and interactive, and therefore more meaningful and more memorable. Cooking food, and slow food, was a big part of that project.

In the Moroccan edition of Weekend Eggs I wrote about how there were many different versions of chakchouka. Well, that’s nothing compared to the variations of tagine in Morocco. You won’t find two cooks who’ll agree on exactly what should go into a tagine as most follow their own family’s recipes, finely tuned in their ancestors kitchens over many generations.

I watched Jamila, the lovely cook at our Marrakech riad make this Moroccan lamb tagine with prunes and almonds and while I loved the results, there are a couple of things that I wanted to do a little differently to Jamila, so I’ve tweaked the recipe accordingly. Just don’t tell Jamila – she’s a force of nature!

Update July 2023: If you enjoy our Moroccan lamb tagine with prunes and almonds recipe, check out our collection of our best stew recipes for more hearty winter warmers.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds Recipe from Marrakech

While Moroccan tagines – also written as tajines with a ‘j’ – are mostly made with meat, particularly lamb and chicken, we enjoyed a tagine with pulpo (octopus), which was simply sublime, while we were sampling some of our favourite seafood restaurants in Essaouria.

It wasn’t our first time in Essaouira, or Morocco for that matter. We’d travelled the length and breadth of Morocco by train, bus and hire car, both on holidays and for work. The first time was in the winter of 1999, when we fell in love with Morocco country – we almost bought a riad in Essaouira! – and the last time was on a road trip with Lara’s mother.

It was a real joy to be back in Morocco – and it was especially enjoyable to be getting lessons in cooking Moroccan food from a Moroccan cook in a riad in the tangle of alleyways in the heart of Marrakech, which is where Jamila taught me to make this tagine.

I ended up making the final version of this Moroccan lamb tagine with prunes and almonds recipe in the adorable rustic kitchen of our riad in Essaouira, where we’d shopped the vibrant local markets that morning with a local cook and friend of our riad’s owner – and what wonderful markets they are!

It was at the early morning markets in the old town of Essaouria where we’d bought all our ingredients, of which the key elements are lamb, spices, prunes, and almonds. The spice seller sold us the individual spices I needed to blend into a Ras el Hanout spice mix, which is essential to this lamb tagine, scooping them onto squares of paper, which he wrapped into individual

Note that if you can’t buy all the spices separately to blend your own spice mix, these days you can can buy the Ras el Hanout spice mix online.

I do realise the irony of cooking lamb tagine in a town on the coast that’s renowned 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 from Essaouira, where the cattle happily graze on the lush green coastal grass.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds Recipe from Marrakech. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.


Tips to Making This Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds Recipe

For this Moroccan lamb tagine with prunes and almonds recipe it’s best to use the lamb shoulder, lamb neck or lamb shanks. 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.

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 tagine.

When you make this, leave plenty of time because it can take longer than you might expect for the meat to achieve that fall-apart tenderness. Think: slow-cooked lamb shanks.

Traditionally, this Moroccan lamb tagine with prunes and almonds recipe would usually call for the tagine to be cooked in a tagine pot, a glazed clay base with a large conical lid that’s designed to guide the condensation from cooking back into the pot.

However, as Jamila, the Moroccan cook at our Marrakech riad told us, these days Moroccan cooks will often cook tagines in a big cooking pot with lid on the stove and then transfer the dish to a tagine pot to serve at the centre of the table. It’s a dish to be shared.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds Recipe from Marrakech. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

You can use a pressure cooker to cook your lamb tagine if you want, as it cuts the simmering time down to about an hour. Don’t quote me on that time, though!

Sad confession: when making this lamb tagine for family back home in Australia years ago, we had to order in pizza because it wasn’t ready at 10pm – even though it was on the stove at 6pm.

To be safe, leave the tagine for at least four hours from the onions hitting the pan to 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 with prunes and almonds recipe are that, firstly, this lamb tagine is dead easy, and, secondly, the lamb tagine will fill your home with the most delicious aromas.

Serve this lamb tagine with some crusty bread. Or plain couscous – just don’t tell your Moroccan friends, for whom couscous is a separate dish, not a side to tagine.

First Published 4 March 2010; Last Updated 5 September 2023

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds Recipe

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds Recipe from Marrakech. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds Recipe

AuthorTerence Carter
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.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Moroccan
Servings made with recipe2 People
Calories 767 kcal


  • 500 g lamb neck - shoulder (cut into 4cm pieces) or shanks if you prefer
  • 3 tablespoons 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


  • Sweat the onions in olive oil over medium heat in a large pan until translucent. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant (about 5mins).
  • Add the lamb and brown all sides of each piece.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients on the list up to the pitted prunes, and stir.
  • Pop the lid on top and simmer for at least two hours before checking for doneness.
  • 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’.
  • 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.
  • It’s around this stage that some recipes add sugar or honey. Taste and add them if you wish although I never have.
  • 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.
  • 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!


Serving: 1gCalories: 767kcalCarbohydrates: 56.4gProtein: 33.9gFat: 49.3gSaturated Fat: 14.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 35.2gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 196mgFiber: 9.5gSugar: 18.9g

Ras el Hanout Recipe

Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds Recipe from Marrakech. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Ras el Hanout

AuthorTerence Carter
This North African spice mix is used in tagines and as a marinade.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Spice Mix
Cuisine North African
Servings made with recipe1 small jar
Calories 39 kcal


  • 1 ½ teaspoons coriander seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric


  • 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.
  • 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.


Calories: 39kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 1gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 22mgPotassium: 84mgFiber: 4gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1280IUCalcium: 60mgIron: 2.7mg

Do let us know if you make our Moroccan lamb tagine with prunes and almonds recipe. If you enjoy it, see my other posts in our series The Dish (now filed under Recipes) from our 2010 grand tour of the world, in which I sought out and learnt to make quintessential dishes of places. These included a traditional chocolate snack with a Michelin-starred chef in Barcelona, rabo de toro (oxtail stew) in Jerez, Spain, and cassoulet in Ceret, France, among many others.


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Terence Carter is an editorial food and travel photographer and infrequent travel writer with a love of photographing people, places and plates of food. After living in the Middle East for a dozen years, he settled in South-East Asia a dozen years ago with his wife, travel and food writer and sometime magazine editor Lara Dunston.

30 thoughts on “Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds Recipe from Marrakech”

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

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

  3. 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!5 stars

  4. 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. 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. 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,
    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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!!!!5 stars

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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!5 stars

  18. 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!

  19. This turned out amazing! We have really good lamb in Scotland and my butcher knew just what cut of lamb (a mix of neck and shoulder with just the right amount of fat) to give me. I do understand why the prunes go with this, instead of apricots which I’ve seen – apricots are much better going with chicken. I’m also intrigued with that octopus version you mentioned!5 stars

  20. Hi John, you are so lucky, we loved our local butcher in Edinburgh when we stayed there.
    You’re right about the prune/apricot divide! I’m not sure whether the octopus tagine thing is only in Essaouria or all along the cast, it was amazing, though.
    Thanks for your comment.

  21. I have been cooking this for many years, since you were in Maroc. It is wonderful. These days I eat more chicken and make your recette with lemons more, but I adore this also. Merci!5 stars

  22. Hello Chantal, I remember you. I stumbled across a comment from you on one of our other Morocco posts just recently. Thank you so much letting us know, and for taking the time to drop by and visit us here :)

  23. Thank you for this delicious and easy recipe! My husband is Moroccan and I’m a white Canadian girl of British origins. We live in a small city in Canada on the West Coast, far removed from the cultural connections that exist more in Quebec which has a sizeable Moroccan population. I usually leave the Moroccan-style cooking to my husband and daughter when the mood strikes them, while I cook most days from other traditions. Yesterday was Eid el Fitr and I decided to make a special dish and came across your recipe here. Wow! So delicious and so authentic! My family was so impressed and gobbled it all up! The only changes I made were to add a cinnamon stick and I kept the almonds out, frying them whole and then using them as a generous garnish at the end. And it all came together in about an hour using the pressure cooker! Thank you and bless you. Eid Mubarak5 stars

  24. Hello Jacqui, we are so pleased to read this! And how fascinating you have a large Moroccan community there. I’m currently in rural Victoria, in Australia, visiting my mum, and in this big country town, there’s a sizeable population of Karen refugees from Myanmar. It was a wonderful surprise! That means I can get many of our Southeast Asian ingredients here, just a lot more expensive than in Cambodia. So wonderful to hear your family was impressed with the dish – I think it makes a difference when you learn to cook dishes (and borrow recipes) from locals in a country, doesn’t it? And Jamila, who taught Terence that dish was an outstanding cook! Eid Mubarak to you and your family!

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