Moroccan Lamb or Beef Tagine With Cardoons

Moroccan Tagine With Cardoons

Christine Benlafquih

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 90 mins
Total: 105 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Cardoons (khorchouf in Arabic) look like giant celery, but when cooked the stalks taste a bit like artichokes. If you've never eaten cardoon, this tagine recipe is a great one to try. Cardoons and meat are cooked with ginger, turmeric, salt, pepper and preserved lemon to yield a slightly tangy, peppery, and very tasty Moroccan dish. Saffron is optional.

Prep time doesn't include cleaning the cardoons

Because cardoons take a long time to cook, a pressure cooker is recommended. Double the cooking times below if using a conventional pot. If you'd like to use a clay or ceramic tagine, see the method in the instructions below. 

Please note that despite the visual similarity of cardoons to celery, the two vegetables are not interchangeable as their flavors are quite different.

Also, try the similarly prepared chicken tagine with cardoons and Moroccan garnina (thistle) tagine.


  • 1 lb./about 1/2 kg. meat, cut into 3- or 4-inch pieces
  • 1 or 2 large bunches of cardoon (pared and cleaned)
  • 1 onion (chopped medium)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped or pressed)
  • 1 tomato (grated)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric (or 1/8 teaspoon Moroccan colorant)
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 preserved lemon (cut into quarters)
  • A​ handful of red olives, (rinsed)

Steps to Make It

  1. Set aside the cleaned cardoon, olives, and preserved lemon.

  2. Mix the meat with the remaining ingredients in a pressure cooker. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, stirring several times to brown the meat on all sides.

  3. Add the cardoons and 3 1/2 to 4 cups (1 liter) of water, and cover the pressure cooker. Turn the heat up to high until pressure is achieved.

  4. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook with pressure for 1 hour. Release the pressure, and check the cardoons to see if they are tender – you should be able to pinch the cardoon pieces in half.

  5. If the cardoons need additional cooking, remove the meat to a plate and cover. Add a little water to the pressure cooker if necessary (the liquids should be level with the cardoons) and continue cooking on pressure until the cardoons are tender. This could take an additional 30 minutes if the cardoon stalks were quite large.

  6. When the cardoons have fully cooked, return the meat to the pot. Add the olives and preserved lemon, and simmer uncovered to reduce the sauce until it is thick and well below the level of the cardoons.

  7. Transfer the cardoons, meat, and sauce to a large platter or tagine, and serve with crusty bread.

To Slow Cook in a Tagine

  • Parboil the cleaned cardoons for 15 or 20 minutes in salted water with a little lemon juice; drain and arrange the cardoons in a tagine along with the rest of the ingredients. Add 3 cups of water, cover, and place the tagine on a diffuser over medium-low heat. Allow the tagine to slowly reach a simmer and then continue to cook for three to four hours until the meat and vegetables are very tender and the sauce is reduced. Watch the liquids toward the end of cooking and add a little more water if you feel it's necessary. Serve the finished dish directly from the tagine.

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