Chef Hassan M'Souli, of Sydney's Out of Africa restaurant, shares a recipe for mrousia – a sweet-and-spicy Moroccan lamb tagine. You don't need a tagine to cook this - just a large saucepan, and you'll be seduced by the aromas as well as the simplicity of this dish.
- 1 tbsp ras el hanout spice mix (see Note)
- 1 tsp saffron thread
- 1 tsp smen (preserved butter) (see Note)
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 French trimmed baby lamb shanks (about 330 g each)
- 2 litres chicken stock, or water
- 250 g sultanas
- 4 onions, halved, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 100 g blanched almonds, roasted
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.
The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.
Marinating time 30 minutes
Combine the ras el hanout, saffron, smen, 2 tbsp olive oil and salt in a large bowl. Add the shanks and toss to coat. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining olive oil, shanks and the marinade, and in batches, brown the shanks all over (this should take about 5 minutes per batch). Place all the shanks back into the saucepan and just cover with chicken stock or water. Place over high heat, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 1 ½ hrs, or until the shanks are tender.
Soak the sultanas in cold water for 2 minutes. Drain and dry on paper towel.
Remove the shanks from the saucepan and set aside. Add the onion to the cooking liquid, and simmer for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add the sultanas, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the honey and sugar, and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes to reduce the sauce.
Return the shanks to the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, and remove from heat.
To serve, arrange the shanks on a large serving plate. Cover with sauce and sprinkle with almonds.
• Good quality ras el hanout is complex mixture of many spices, and available from Herbies Spices, or Middle-Eastern delicatessens. Or make your own with Hassan M'Souli's recipe.
• Smen is a cultured clarified butter that has a blue cheese flavor and is hard to find in Australia, substitute ghee if unavailable.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Michelle Noerianto.