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Lamb, Prune and Almond Tagine

Preparation time: 20 min, plus at least 5 hr marinating, Cooking time: 2 hr 30 min Cals per serving: 630

ingredients

serves: 6
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp ground turmeric
5 garlic cloves, chopped
6 tbsp olive oil
1.4 kg (3 lb) lamb leg steaks
75 g (3 oz) ghee or clarified butter
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
900ml (1 1/2 pt) lamb stock
300 g (11 oz) ready-to-eat prunes
4 cinnamon sticks
4 bay leaves
50 g (2 oz) ground almonds
12 shallots
1 tbsp honey toasted almonds and
fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped, to garnish

method

1. Blend the coriander, cumin, chilli powder, paprika, turmeric, garlic and 4 tablespoons of the oil in a pestle and mortar or a blender. Coat the steaks in the paste, cover and chill for at least 5 hours, or overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan oven/Gas Mark 3. In a large flameproof casserole, melt 25 g (1 oz) of the ghee, add the onions and carrot and cook until softened, then remove and put to one side. Fry the lamb on each side in the remaining ghee.

3. Add a little of the stock to the casserole and bring to the boil, scraping up the sediment from the bottom. Return the onion and carrot to the casserole and add 100 g (3 1/2 oz) of the prunes.

4. Add the remaining stock to the pan with the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and ground almonds; season. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours, or until the meat is really tender.

5. Meanwhile, fry the shallots in the rest of the olive oil and the honey until they turn a deep golden brown. Add the shallots to the casserole 30 to 40 minutes before the end of cooking time.

6. Take the lamb out of the sauce and put to one side. Bring the sauce to the boil, bubble and reduce to a thick consistency. Return the lamb to the casserole, add the remaining prunes, then bubble for 3 to 4 minutes. Garnish with almonds and parsley to serve.
Clarified Butter: Melt some butter in a small pan and heat gently without allowing it to colour. Skim off the foam as it rises to the top, leaving the milk solids to sink to the bottom. Pour the clear butter into a bowl through a sieve lined with kitchen paper. Allow to settle for 10 minutes, then pour into another bowl, leaving any sediment behind. Cool, then store in a jar in the fridge for up to six months.

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