Moroccan Lamb or Beef Recipe With Almonds and Rice

lamb and almonds on bed of rice
Amelia Johnson/arabianEye/Getty Images
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 70 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
773 Calories
53g Fat
26g Carbs
48g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 773
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 53g 68%
Saturated Fat 19g 97%
Cholesterol 177mg 59%
Sodium 740mg 32%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 9%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 48g
Vitamin C 3mg 17%
Calcium 126mg 10%
Iron 5mg 25%
Potassium 809mg 17%
*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.)

While most Moroccan tagines are served with Moroccan bread for dipping in and scooping up meat and sauce, this particular dish is traditionally offered with rice, which yields a presentation similar to kabsa. Since ample sauce is desired for serving the meat over rice, a conventional pot or pressure cooker is usually the cooking vessel of choice. 

Crunchy, nutty fried almonds are often used to garnish Moroccan dishes, but here blanched almonds are stewed with the meat, yielding a soft texture and milder flavor. If you prefer more crunch, the almonds may be fried or toasted instead; see the tips at the end of the directions. 

Cooking time is for a pressure cooker. Allow two hours or more if cooking conventionally.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 pounds (1 kilogram) lamb, or beef, cut into 2- or 3-inch pieces

  • 2 large onions, grated, or very thinly sliced

  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon ginger, optional

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 1/3 cup butter, or vegetable oil

  • 2 to 3 cilantro sprigs, tied into a bouquet

  • 1 cup (100 grams) almonds, blanched and peeled

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons honey, optional

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 2 cups rice

  • 4 1/4 cups water, broth, or combination of both

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 teaspoons salt (reduce or omit if using broth)

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Ginger, to taste

  • 3 to 4 threads saffron, optional

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, optional

Steps to Make It

Cook the Meat and Almonds

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

  2. Add 2 1/2 to 3 cups of water, the cilantro, and the almonds. You can omit cooking the almonds and serve them as a garnish instead. See the note at the end of these directions. Over high heat, bring the meat and liquids to a fast simmer.

Pressure Cooker Method

  1. If using a pressure cooker, cover tightly and continue cooking over high heat until pressure is achieved.

  2. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook with pressure for 50 minutes.

  3. Release the pressure and check to see that the meat is tender enough to break apart with a fork.

  4. If it isn't, add water if necessary and cook with pressure for another 10 minutes.

  5. When the meat is cooked, discard the cilantro and cinnamon stick. Add the sugar and ground cinnamon (if using) and reduce the sauce, uncovered, until it is thick.

  6. Taste and adjust seasoning.

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 apart easily with a fork. If necessary, add water during cooking to prevent the meat from scorching.

  2. When the meat is cooked, discard the cilantro and cinnamon stick. Add the sugar and ground cinnamon (if using) and reduce the sauce, uncovered, until it is thick.

  3. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Cook the Rice

  1. Prepare the rice while the meat and almonds are stewing. Place 4 1/4 cups water or broth in a pot. Add the salt, butter, sugar, and rice and bring to a boil. Stir, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low.

  2. Cook the rice, undisturbed, for about 25 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquids are absorbed.

  3. Remove from the heat and keep covered to hold warm until serving time.

To Serve

  1. Toss the rice with a fork and arrange it into a mound on a large platter.

  2. Make a well in the center and add the meat.

  3. Spoon the almonds and sauce over the meat and rice and serve immediately. Moroccan tradition is to gather communally around the serving dish, with each person eating from his own side of the platter.

Tips

  • If you prefer a crunchy texture to the almonds, you can fry them or toast them in a 350 F (180 C) oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly colored. This can be done a day in advance or while the meat is cooking. Scatter the almonds over the meat and rice just before serving.
  • For extra flavorful rice, use broth from the meat. Plan for this by adding an extra 4 cups of water and double the seasoning to the meat. Interrupt the cooking of the meat after 30 minutes of pressure cooking (or after an hour to hour-and-a-half of conventional cooking) to ladle out the broth needed for the rice. Continue cooking the meat until tender and the remaining sauce has reduced.