Moroccan Lamb Tagine With Dates

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

Christine Benlafquih

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 70 mins
Total: 85 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
787 Calories
53g Fat
37g Carbs
42g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 787
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 53g 68%
Saturated Fat 17g 83%
Cholesterol 160mg 53%
Sodium 513mg 22%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 13%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 29g
Protein 42g
Vitamin C 3mg 13%
Calcium 67mg 5%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 835mg 18%
*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.)

This easy Moroccan tagine features meat cooked until tender with saffron, ginger, and pepper, which is then topped with soft dates in a cinnamon-flavored syrup. Sesame seeds and fried almonds are traditional garnishes, and Moroccan bread is served alongside for scooping everything up.

Medjool dates are recommended for this dish, but other firm, chewy dates can be used. Ras el hanout (a Moroccan spice blend) and white pepper are optional seasonings. You can make this recipe in a pressure cooker, a conventional pot, or a traditional ceramic or clay tagine. The cooking times will vary depending on which method you use.


  • 2 pounds 3 ounces tender lamb, or beef, cut into 2- or 3-inch pieces

  • 2 medium onions, grated

  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, optional

  • 1/4 teaspoon ras el hanout, optional

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, or butter

  • 2 1/2 cups water

  • 1 small handful cilantro sprigs, tied into a bouquet

  • 1 1/2 cups medjool dates

  • 2 tablespoons sugar, or honey

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, optional

  • Handful fried almonds, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large pot or pressure cooker, mix the meat with the onions, garlic, spices, and oils. Brown the meat for a few minutes over medium heat.

  3. Add 2 1/2 cups of water and the cilantro. Over high heat, bring the meat and liquids to a rapid simmer.

Pressure Cooker Method

  1. If using a pressure cooker, cover tightly and continue heating until pressure is achieved.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook with pressure for 45 to 50 minutes. (About halfway through cooking, remove and reserve 1/2 cup of the liquids.)
  3. After the meat has cooked, release the pressure and reduce the sauce, uncovered, until it is mostly oils and onion.

Pot Method

  1. If using a pot, cover and simmer the meat over medium heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender and breaks away easily from the bone. (About halfway through cooking, remove and reserve 1/2 cup of the liquids.)
  2. If necessary, add a small amount of water during cooking to prevent the meat from scorching.
  3. When the meat has cooked, reduce the sauce until it is mostly oil and onions.

Clay or Ceramic Tagine Method

  1. Slice 1 of the onions into rings instead of grating it, and layer the onion rings on the bottom of the tagine.
  2. Mix the meat with the grated onion, garlic, oils, and spices, and arrange the mixture on top of the onion rings.
  3. Add 2 1/2 cups water, cover, and place the tagine on a diffuser over medium-low to medium heat. Allow the tagine to reach a simmer (this may take a long time), and then reduce the heat to the lowest temperature necessary to maintain the simmer.
  4. Allow the tagine to cook for 3 hours or longer until the meat is very tender and the liquids are reduced. (About 2 hours into the cooking, remove and reserve 1/2 cup of the liquids.)

Simmer the Dates

  1. While the meat is cooking, remove the pits from the dates. Put the pitted dates in a small pot with the liquids reserved from the meat.

  2. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon, and simmer the dates gently for 5 to 10 minutes, or until they are sitting in a thick syrup.

To Serve

  1. Put the meat and sauce on a large serving platter, and spoon the dates and syrup on top. (If you cooked the dish in a tagine, the vessel will double as a serving dish; simply add the dates and syrup to the tagine at serving time.)

  2. If desired, garnish with sesame seeds and/or fried almonds.

Recipe Variation

  • Replace the turmeric with 1/4 teaspoon Moroccan yellow colorant.