“When I visited Fes, the festival of Eid was about to begin. For days, the tiny streets of the Medina were full of excitement as every family took a goat or sheep home with them for the biggest festival of the year. All the shops closed, the tourists were gone and in their place were rows of fires with teenagers cooking bits of sheep that I couldn’t always recognise. It was a surreal scene as the smoke drifted through streets that just 24 hours earlier were packed with people. I’m not brave enough to cook some of the traditional dishes that families have prepared for generations; it would be like someone knocking on my door and telling me how to cook a turkey! But I do have a favourite lamb tagine dish that’s thickened with lentils. It’s not traditional, but I felt confident enough to try it out on my new friend, Abdelali, who had been kind enough to take me to his secret eating spots around the Medina.” Ainsley Harriott, Ainsley Harriott’s Street Food






Skill level

Average: 4.1 (23 votes)


  • 1 small lamb shoulder, bone in and cut in half (ask your butcher to do this)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp ras el hanout
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 100 g dates, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 600 ml water or lamb stock
  • 100 g brown lentils



  • 225 g couscous
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 450 ml boiling water
  • 50 g toasted flaked almonds
  • 1 small pomegranate, seeds removed (membrane discarded)
  • 1 tbsp dried edible rose petals
  • small handful fresh mint sprigs

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Season the lamb shoulder with salt and rub 1 tablespoon of the ras el hanout into the flesh. Heat half the olive oil in a large heavy-based casserole large enough to fit the lamb comfortably. Cook the lamb on both sides over high heat until a rich golden brown, then remove from the pan.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the remaining ras el hanout and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the honey, dates and cinnamon, then return the lamb to the pan and add the water or stock and the lentils and season to taste. Cover and cook over very low heat for 3-4 hours or until the lamb is completely tender but still holding its shape and the lentils have slightly thickened the sauce. If necessary, add a little more water during cooking to prevent the meat drying out.

Meanwhile, place the couscous in a heatproof bowl and stir in the lemon juice and half the olive oil. Pour over the boiling water, cover and set aside for 5-10 minutes. Using a fork, fluff up the couscous to separate the grains. Just before serving, heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add the couscous and stir until hot.

To serve, place the hot couscous on a large platter and scatter over the almonds, pomegranate seeds, rose petals and mint. Carefully transfer the pieces of lamb and pour over the sauce. 


Ainsley Harriott’s Street Food starts Thursday 6 August 2015 at 8.30pm on SBS and finishes 1 October 2015. Visit the Ainsley Harriott’s Street Food program page to catch-up on episodes online, scroll through recipes and read our interview with Ainsley.