Moroccan lamb stew has gained popularity worldwide and also within my family.
Stew is generally considered as a cold weather food. It is cooked at relatively low temperature allowing the ingredients’ flavors to mingle. Last night it finally rained heavily after a prolonged heat wave lasting almost a month. I had some mutton pieces in my fridge so I decided to cook this dish with them instead of lamb. Spices are extensively used in Moroccan food. But this dish can be cooked as a light and soupy form too, so I decided to have it with steamed rice. Mutton is more popular than lamb in Indian households and is easily available in the market. The combination of mutton’s unique flavor with Moroccan spice mix, Ras-el-henout, along with root vegetables, chickpeas, dry fruits like figs, dates or apricot, results in a one pot wonder.
Ras-el-henout was not readily available for me, however while surfing the net for the recipe I found that all of its ingredients are available in my spice box, so decided to prepare it in small quantity so that it can be consumed fast before it loses its flavor. The recipe of this masala has also been shared below. I was short of the required dry fruits so decided to use brown sugar to balance the taste. Also, instead of ready-made tomato puree I preferred to use tomato concasse. This technique is used for retaining the vibrant red colour of tomatoes. Concasse recipe has also been shared below. I have also used harissa sauce which is a commonly used ingredient in Moroccan dishes. However, use variant of chilies is completely optional, depending upon your preference of the amount heat in the dish.
The quantity will make a satisfactory dinner for 4 hungry people.
- Mutton 750 gm Preferably Champ or front leg or mix of both
- Coriander powder 1 tspn
- Cumin powder ½ tspn
- Paprika or Kashmiri mirch powder 1 tspn
- Freshly ground black pepper ½ tspn
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 tspn grated ginger
- 1 large carrot peeled and cut into big 2-3 pieces
- 1 large potato cut into 4
- 3-4 Garlic cloves chopped
- 1 cup tomato concasse (Recipe)
- 1 Cinnamon stick of 1”
- 1 tspn of ras –el- hanout (morroccon spice mix) recipe below
- 1 cup chickpea soaked for at least 4 hrs
- 1 tspn brown sugar or dried figs or apricot (any one)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tspn Harissa sauce (Recipe )
- Fresh coriander leaves
- 1 tspn ground cinnamon
- 1 tspn ground coriander
- 1 tspn ground nutmeg
- ½ tspn allspice/Kebab chini crushed
- 1 tspn ground cumin
- 1 tspn ginger powder/Saunth
- 1 tspn turmeric
- 1 tspn black pepper
- 1/4th tspn ground cloves
- ½ tspn cayenne pepper/Kashmiri chili powder
Mix all above will yield more than 2 tblspn of Ras-El-Hanout spice.
Pressure cook the chickpeas for 10 mins. It should be soft but firm. Strain and Keep Aside.
Clean and wash the mutton thoroughly in running water. Keep it in strainer to discard the excess water.
In a bowl put ½ of olive oil, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili, black pepper powder, Harissa sauce and ½ tspn salt. Combine all to form a marinade.
Put lamb pieces in it. Rub this mix on each of mutton piece and let it sit in room temperature at least for 2 hrs. Best to marinade covered overnight in fridge .
In a heavy bottomed pan pour rest of oil and fry the meat pieces in batches till lightly browned in each side. Transfer it in a plate or bowl. Scrap the brown bits and keep with the mutton.
In the same saute the onion for 2 mins. Add garlic, ginger and sauté further till lightly browned.
Add tomato concasse paste. Saute for 2 mts or till oil separates. Add ras el hanout, 1 tspn salt and ½ tspn black pepper. Stir for 1 min and return the mutton pieces. Stir the mutton alongwith all spices for 1-2 mins.
Add water/chicken stalk till the meat pieces are submerged. Bring to boil, check seasoning, reduce heat in simmer and cook covered for one hr.
Check if the liquid has reduced much then add more. In this stage add carrots, potato and chickpeas. Add dry fruit or sugar. Cover it again and cook for another ½ hr or more till the meat and veggies are tender.
Transfer to serving bowl. Traditionally Moroccan stew is not garnished but served as it is. So garnishing with coriander leaves is optional.
Stew is ready to serve with hot steamed rice or Naan/Roti/Paratha.