I love recipes that can be prepared in advance and left to do their thing in the oven, filling the house with gorgeous aromas, the meat gently softening until it melts in the mouth and the flavours developing and becoming amazing!
This recipe does involve a few more ingredients than my usual recipes, but it is not difficult to make and although the stew takes a while in the oven, the actual hands on time is only 30 minutes, meaning it can be made when you have a bit of time earlier on in the day and then left to do its thing in the oven. All you need to do at the last minute is make the couscous.
If you want to keep things a bit simpler, you can just make plain couscous to serve with the stew (make it like the recipe below, but without the lemon, herbs, nuts and seeds) or you can serve the stew with rice, mashed potatoes or just some crusty bread.
Although this recipe is straightforward enough to be a midweek meal, it is impressive enough for a dinner party. Almost all the cooking is done in advance, meaning you have plenty of time to clear up the kitchen and get ready – so you can be relaxed and sociable when guests arrive, not frazzled and stressed, with the kitchen looking like a bomb has hit it!
This recipe makes great leftovers if you make too much. The couscous will keep for a day or two in the fridge and works well as a packed lunch the next day with a couple of pittas. The lamb stew can happily be kept in the fridge and reheated the next day or popped in the freezer to be used at a later date for a near instant meal.
In an ideal world the stew would be made in a casserole dish with a lid, so it can be started on the hob and then finished off in the oven, but if you don’t own a dish that can go from the hob to the oven, you can start the stew off in a normal saucepan on the hob and tip it into an ovenproof dish with a lid to finish it off in the oven.
Moroccan Lamb Stew and Jewelled Couscous
- 1 red onion sliced finely
- Olive oil
- 2 aubergines diced into 2 cm chunks
- 4 cloves of garlic grated or crushed
- 2 cm piece of ginger grated
- 600 g lamb diced into 2cm chunks
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds ground in a pestle and mortar (or buy ready ground)
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds ground in a pestle and mortar (or buy ready ground)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Salt and pepper
- 1 x 400g tin tomatoes
- 200 ml lamb stock from a stock cube is fine, I used Oxo
- 2 teaspoons harissa paste
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 x 400g tin chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves finely chopped plus a few extra leaves for garnish
- 300 g couscous
- Salt and pepper
- 450 ml boiling water
- ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon mint finely chopped, plus a few extra leaves for garnish
- 1 tablespoon parsley finely chopped, plus a few extra leaves for garnish
- 80 g pomegranate seeds I buy these in a nice little pot from Tesco or use the seeds from 1 pomegranate
- 50 g pistachios I buy these without their shells to save myself a job
- Slice the red onion and put it in a large, deep casserole dish (or a saucepan and transfer into an ovenproof dish later) with a drizzle of olive oil. Cook on a low heat with the lid on for about 5 minutes until the onions have softened.
- Add the diced aubergine and a little more olive oil and turn up the heat. Cook until the aubergine is golden brown – about 5 minutes.
- Turn the heat down again and add the garlic and ginger. Fry for one more minute and then turn the heat off.
- Preheat the oven to 160C
- Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan (preferably non-stick) on a high heat.
- Sprinkle the ground cumin, coriander and cinnamon over the chunks of lamb and add a few twists of salt and pepper.
- Swirl the hot olive oil around the frying pan to coat and then add the chunks of spice covered lamb. Fry for about 1 minute on at least two sides to give the lamb some colour. Turn off the heat and tip the lamb into the onion and aubergine mixture.
- Add the tin of tomatoes, the lamb stock, the harissa and honey to the casserole dish and bring the stew to the boil.
- Put the lid on your casserole dish and transfer to the oven (or tip into an oven proof dish, if using a saucepan). Cook for 1h15 minutes in your preheated oven.
- minutes before the end of the cooking time tip the can of drained chickpeas into the stew. Put the lid back on and put the stew back in the oven for the final 15 minutes.
- At this point make start making the jewelled couscous (see below).
- When the stew is ready stir in most of the coriander and then sprinkle over a few leaves for garnish. Serve the lamb curry straight from the casserole dish with the jewelled couscous.
- After you have added the chickpeas to the stew, it is time to make the jewelled couscous. Put the couscous in a large bowl and add several twists of salt and black pepper. Pour over the boiling water and stir to combine. Cover the couscous with a plate and leave for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes fluff up the couscous and add the lemon juice, olive oil, chopped mint, parsley, pomegranate seeds and pistachio nuts (but keep a few pomegranate seeds and pistachio nuts back for decoration). Stir everything together and tip out onto a large serving plate or bowl. Decorate with the remaining herbs, pomegranate seeds and pistachio nuts.
- Serve with the lamb stew and a glass of Côtes du Rhône (or, if you can find it, Côtes du Roussillon – Tesco do a lovely one at the moment called Chateau De Pena)