A tagine is both a cooking vessel and the slow cooked, fragrant North African stew cooked in it. Meat or poultry is gently simmered with vegetables, olives, preserved lemons, garlic and spices like cumin, ginger, pepper, saffron and turmeric.
1 quince, about 500 grams
2 tablespoons honey
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon each ground ginger, cumin, coriander and paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste large pinch of saffron threads
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
600 ml water
1 tablespoon honey
1 kilogram lamb shoulder chops
flat leaf parsley to garnish
Quince: Peel the quince and cut into quarters. Remove the core and place in a saucepan with the honey and cinnamon stick. Add enough water to cover and simmer until tender when pierced with a skewer. This can take up to 40 minutes. The quince will turn a pale pink. Cut each quarter into 3. Heat a little oil and butter in a sauté pan and cook the quince slices until golden on both sides.
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Lamb: Heat the oil in a large oven-proof sauté pan or saucepan and cook the onions and the garlic slowly until tender. Add the salt, ginger, cumin, coriander, paprika, tomato paste and the saffron and cook for 1 minute. Add the cinnamon, bay leaves, water and the honey. Stir to combine then add the lamb. Bring to the boil, cover and cook slowly in the oven for 2 hours or until very tender. Add the quince to the lamb and heat through.
To serve: Stir through the parsley and transfer the meat and juices to a deep serving bowl.
Serve with couscous or a rice pilaf to soak up the sauce.
This tagine is even better made 1-2 days ahead. Spoon off the fat that has set and discard. Reheat, covered, in a 180°C oven until hot, adding the quince 10 minutes before serving.