Moroccan Berber Tagine With Lamb or Beef and Vegetables

Moroccan Berber Tagine with vegetables

The Spruce / Christine Benlafquih

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 3 hrs 30 mins
Total: 3 hrs 55 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
575 Calories
28g Fat
43g Carbs
42g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 575
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 28g 35%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 112mg 37%
Sodium 838mg 36%
Total Carbohydrate 43g 16%
Dietary Fiber 7g 24%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 42g
Vitamin C 69mg 346%
Calcium 97mg 7%
Iron 7mg 37%
Potassium 1404mg 30%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Moroccan tagines that combine meat and vegetables make wonderful one-dish meals to offer at family dinners or when entertaining casually. They can be slow-cooked on the stove, or prepped indoors and then cooked outside over charcoal for backyard dining or at beach outings and picnics. 

Berber style tagines such as this one are distinguished not only by the seasoning but also by the presentation of ingredients. The vegetables are carefully arranged in conical fashion around the beef or lamb, fully concealing the meat in an artistic, appetizing manner.

Although many of the tagine recipes on this site include directions for alternative preparations in a pot or pressure cooker, this one is best slowly cooked in the traditional clay or ceramic vessel from which it takes its name. The seasoning below is ideal when using potatoes as the dominant ingredient, but other vegetables are added for color and complementary flavor. Here I'm recommending carrots and zucchini, but either or both can be replaced with fresh peas, green beans, sliced tomatoes, turnips, or other veggies you might have on hand. 

Preserved lemon and olives are classic additions and do add a distinctive flavor and some saltiness, but may be omitted if you don't have them on hand. Adjust salt accordingly. If using chicken instead of red meat, see the tips below.

The tagine serves as both the cooking vessel and serving dish; diners gather around and eat from their own side of the tagine using Moroccan bread (khobz) in place of a utensil. 


  • 1 pound beef, or lamb, cut into 2-inch to 3-inch pieces

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, sliced

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed

  • 3 to 4 small potatoes, or medium, quartered lengthwise

  • 3 to 4 medium carrots, halved or quartered lengthwise

  • 4 small zucchini, whole, or other veggies, optional

  • 1 small bell pepper, any color, cut into strips or rings

  • 1 small handful parsley, and/or cilantro sprigs, tied into a bouquet

  • 1 small jalapeño, or chile pepper, optional

  • 1 small preserved lemon, quartered

  • 1 handful olives, green or red/violet

For the Seasoning:

  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

  • 1 teaspoon ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

  • 1 pinch saffron threads, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Pour the olive oil into the base of a tagine.

  2. Arrange the onion rings across the bottom and scatter the chopped onion and garlic on top.

  3. Arrange the meat, bone-side down, in a mound in the center of the tagine. (The taller the mound, the more conical your arrangement of vegetables will be.)

  4. Combine the spices in a small bowl.

  5. Sprinkle a little less than half of the seasoning over the meat and onions.

  6. Place the prepped vegetables in a large bowl.

  7. Add the remaining seasoning and toss to coat the vegetables evenly.

  8. Arrange the vegetables in a conical shape around the meat.

  9. Arrange the bell pepper strips in the center and top with the parsley bouquet and then the jalapeño pepper, Garnish the tagine with the preserved lemon quarters and olives.

  10. Add 2 1/2 cups water to the empty bowl and swirl to rinse the residual spices.

  11. Add the water to the tagine, cover, and place the tagine over medium coals in a brazier, or stovetop over medium-low heat. Note that use of a diffuser under the tagine is necessary if using clay or ceramic on an electric stove and recommended for other heat sources as well.

  12. Leave the tagine to reach a simmer. This may take a long time, 20 minutes or so; be cautious in feeling the need to increase the heat.

  13. Once simmering, continue cooking the tagine over medium-low heat until the meat and vegetables are very tender and the sauce is reduced, up to 3 hours for beef and up to 4 hours for lamb.

  14. While the tagine is cooking, you may check the level of the liquids occasionally and add a little water as necessary, but otherwise, try not to disturb the tagine. 

  15. Do stay alert for the smell of anything burning, and lower the heat if necessary to avoid scorching ingredients and/or cracking the tagine. It is normal, however, for some of the base onions to burn and adhere to the bottom of the tagine as they caramelize and reduce.

  16. Remove the cooked tagine from the heat and serve. It will stay warm while covered for 30 minutes.

Tips for Cooking Berber Tagine With Chicken

If you want to use chicken in place of lamb or beef, you may leave the skin on or remove it; arrange the chicken meat-side (or skin-side) up. Cooking directions will basically remain the same, except that you should reduce the water to 1 1/2 cups and reduce the cooking time to 2 hours, or until the veggies test done. To compensate for the shorter cooking time, it may be helpful to use smaller potatoes and carrots, and to briefly parboil legumes such as peas and green beans before adding them to the tagine.