The first time I made this Moroccan lamb stew I made a big pot of it for Passover. I was tired of the usual brisket and chicken for the holidays. So, mom and I made this instead.
It’s flavored with cinnamon, a touch of ginger, raisins, almonds, and lamb. The lamb is cooked slowly, so it practically melts in your mouth.
While the full recipe is certainly worth making (and then freezing the leftovers), my freezer is tiny and too full of other food to do that right now.
So I “minified” the recipe (from The Book of Jewish Food) and made it for one instead. Many Moroccan recipes call for somewhat exotic ingredients (if you’re a Westerner), such as sumac or ras el hanout. This one doesn’t. It’s made entirely with ingredients that should be in any market. And, once you start it cooking, there’s very little to do.
I have modified it slightly. She calls for honey and more water than I have used. I left out the honey because I felt the raisins and the carrots (my own addition) were sweet enough. I reduced the water, using just enough to soak the saffron. The lamb cooks nicely in its own fat, it doesn’t need the water.
I don’t have a slow cooker, but if you do, you could probably start your stew in the morning and have it ready when you come home from work.
Use either a lamb breast (bone-in) or a shoulder lamb chop. Shoulder cuts are also better for stews and long, slow cooking.
It’s great for a weekend dinner, washed down with some Zinfandel.
Moroccan Lamb Stew
Traditional for the holidays, this Moroccan stew gets sweetness from raisins, and cinnamon and a bit of a kick from ginger.
1 hour, 30 minutes
1 hour, 45 minutes
*To use the saffron, soak it for about 20 minutes in about 2 T of water. Mash that up, and then add it to the stew (with the water). It will add flavor and color to the final dish.
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 T vegetable or canola oil
- 1 lb lamb breast (bone-in) or 1 shoulder lamb chop, cut into cubes
- salt and pepper
- a few threads of saffron*
- 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
- sliced frozen carrot (optional, about 8 pieces)
- 1 T seedless raisins
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 6-8 almonds (divided)
- Heat the oil in a small saucepan.
- Add the diced onion and let it cook for a minute or two.
- Now put in the lamb breast or cubes, cook, stirring, until the lamb browns. If you are using a lamb breast, brown it on both sides, for about 5 minutes per side.
- Add the salt, pepper, saffron, and ginger.
- The fat from the lamb should be enough to cook it, check it occasionally and add a tablespoon or two of water if needed.
- Simmer on low heat for one hour.
- Put in the raisins and cinnamon and cook another 15 minutes.
- Add the carrot, if using (I had about one carrot's worth of frozen carrots left, so I threw them in for color)
- Take half the almonds, and add to the pot, cooking and stirring for 15 minutes.
- Remove the stew onto a serving plate. Chop the remaining almonds and sprinkle them on top.
Moroccan Lamb Stew Tools and Ingredients
Yes, it’s pricey, but it adds a unique flavor and beautiful color. Luckily, Amazon is easier (and likely less expensive and fresher) than the stuff in the supermarket. Soak it first, then mash it with a spoon to release the flavor and color. You only need a little bit and you can use the rest for other dishes.
The Book of Jewish Food
This book is part cookbook, part history, and part travelogue. There are recipes from places you probably never thought of as “Jewish.” The ingredients aren’t always what you’d expect either. Sure there are recipes for challah, and potato pancakes, and noodle pudding.
But there’s also stuffed zucchini, meatballs in apricot sauce, lamb with artichokes, pita bread, and phyllo pastry filled with pistachios. She gives recipes, as well as a history of the people in each part of the world she covers. It’s like going on vacation, and sometimes traveling back through time, without leaving your couch.
More Moroccan and Lamb Recipes
Moroccan Chicken and Lentil Soup
Yes, this is really “Jewish” food. Except it’s from Morocco, not Poland. Flavored with chicken, saffron, tomatoes and beans, enriched with noodles and turmeric. Just the thing for a chilly day.
Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes for One
Another Jewish recipe, this time from North Africa. Flavored with buttery green olives, sweet tomatoes, and a little bit of ginger for kick.
Greek Lamb Breast Recipe
Slow roasted in the oven with an easy marinade you can make in minutes. Slow cooking brings out the garlicky, lemony flavor of the marinade and lets it seep into the meat.
Spinach Lamb Meatballs
A cross-country collaboration rich with tangy vinegar, earthy spinach, and warm spice from cumin. Ready in minutes.