Have you ever had one of those days when it is wet and miserable outside and you refuse to head out into the elements to forage and gather food? Standing outside waiting for the public bus to come while getting soaked in sideways monsoon rains to head to the market today, was not on my top 10 fun things to do today. Instead, I started to forage around my own kitchen and see what I could make out of my well stocked pantry. Lets see I had chick peas,canned tomatoes, onions, celery, lamb, and many new spices that I had not a chance to give a try. What can I possibly make with those ingredients? Then, I was browsing through a cooking magazine called “Master Chef Magazine” by Neil Perry and I stumbled upon a delightful recipe for Moroccan Stew. I was very relieved to see that this recipe sounded delightfully easy and for the most part I had everything I needed to create this dish without venturing out into the Monsoon.
So my journey begins to this side of the world, Morocco. What comes to mind when you think of Morocco? For me I think of large Tajines( tajine pot has a conical cover of which has a knob-like handle at its top to facilitate removal). While simmering, the cover can be lifted off without the aid of a cooking mitten, enabling the cook to inspect the main ingredients, add vegetables, mix the contents, or add additional braising liquid. In Moroccan cuisine many dishes are slow-cooked stews braised made with lots of love at low temperatures, resulting in tender meat with aromatic vegetables and sauce. Some times they are called “Tagine or Tajiine” and they are so beautiful. I do not have one so I just used a heavy bottomed stew pot with a lid.
Oh my goodness, I wish you could smell the lovely fragrance coming from my kitchen as the slow cooking process has permeated our home with lovely exotic aromas. My teenagers have been hounding me all evening and asking me what time will dinner finally be ready. “Is it done yet? Is it done yet? Is it done yet?”. I have called this dish the Moroccan “MAMBO” Lamb and Chickpea Stew because when you taste this dish with all the lovely spices and herbs, it is like a party or dance going on in your mouth. I hope you enjoy this lovely dish.
Moroccan Mambo Lamb and Chickpea Stew (serves 4-6 Adults or 2 hungry teenagers)
Recipe adapted from the Master Chef Magazine by Neil Perry – July 2011 edition
- 2 red onions (I only added 1 small)
- 2 stalks celery
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 cm piece ginger
- 400g canned chickpeas
- 400g canned lentils (I used dried as this is what I had in my pantry)
- 1 cinnamon quill
- 1.5 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
- 400g canned diced tomatoes (I pureed mine as you know how my teenagers are about big chunks of tomatoes in anything- fear factor)
- 1 liter of water (I used chicken broth)
- 450g lamb (You can use any kind of meat you wish like chicken or beef or just leave it out all together and this is a fantastic vegetarian and/or gluten-free dish)
- 1/4 bunch coriander
- 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley
- 50g (1/4) long grain rice (I would suggest that in order for you to cook this dish slowly over 3 hours- leave the rice out of the dish and instead serve it on the side. 2 cups dried basmati cooked on the side to feed my hungry teenagers)
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- lemon slices to garnish
Step 1. Peel and finely chop onions and celery. Heat oil in large saucepan over high heat. Add onions celery and 1 tsp of salt. Crush garlic and ginger and add to pan and cook until vegetables are tender.
Step 2. Drain and rinse chickpeas and lentils. Add spices to pan and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant. Stir in chickpeas, lentils, tomatoes and 1 liter of chicken broth (lamb broth) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes.
Step 3. Meanwhile, trim fat and bones from lamb or other meat and cut meat into 2 cm pieces and set aside. Tear leaves from herbs, roughly chop, then set aside. (Now if you follow the recipe you would now add 50 grams of uncooked rice to the stew) I did not but just cooked mine on the side.
Step 4. While the stew is simmering away, in a separate heavy skillet. Add reserved fat from the lamb and add to pan and cook for 1 minute until enough fat is released to the pan to coat it. Discard fat. (Or just add a tablespoon of olive oil) and then add lamb meat to hot pan and season with salt and pepper and cook until browned.
Plan A: Slow simmered tender dish- Stir meat and let simmer in tajine or pot for about 3 hours. (cooking the stew slowly over 3 hours allow the meat to be super tender and the spices to mingle and this results in fantastic flavors) However, remember to cook the rice on the side and do not add to dish. Then add fresh chopped herbs and lemon juice into stew and divide among bowls and serve with lemon wedges.
Plan B: 30 minute meal for weekend night dish- add the 50 grams of rice in step 3 and add now add meat, herbs and lemon juice into stew and divide among bowls and serve with lemon wedges. (same great flavors but meat may not be as tender as in option A)
In addition, I served mine with some fried pappadums. Pappadums are great for scooping up the delicious stew and adds a little crunch and makes a fun way to eat the stew. Pappadums are thin, crisp Indian crisps, kind of like a cracker. It is typically served as an accompaniment to a meal in India and is great with stews, curry and chutney.