Pressure Cooker Moroccan Lamb or Beef Tagine With Prunes

Pressure Cooker Moroccan Lamb or Beef Tagine With Prunes

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  • Total: 85 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 70 mins
  • Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
753 Calories
48g Fat
43g Carbs
40g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 753
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 48g 62%
Saturated Fat 19g 94%
Cholesterol 162mg 54%
Sodium 124mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 43g 16%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Protein 40g
Calcium 117mg 9%
*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.)

Beef or lamb with prunes is a classic sweet and savory Moroccan dish that combines dried prunes and meat with the fragrant spices of ginger, saffron, cinnamon, and pepper. It's popular as a traditional offering at holiday gatherings, weddings, and other special occasions. 

Of course, no special occasion is needed in order for a tagine of lamb with prunes to appear on the table. Prep work is minimal, making it a perfect choice for casual family meals. Although the use of a Moroccan clay or ceramic tagine is most traditional, most Moroccan cooks prepare this dish in a pressure cooker as it speeds things up. Tender cuts of meat (some pieces on the bone) will give the best results.

The cooking time listed below is for the pressure cooker method. Double or triple this time if using a conventional pot or tagine. Note that the onion preparation is different for the tagine method.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds tender beef or lamb, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions, grated or very finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 to 2 (3- to 4-inch) pieces cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • Handful of cilantro sprigs, tied together
  • 1/2 pound prunes
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • Optional: Handful of​ fried almonds

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this Moroccan dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Cook the Meat

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Pressure Cooker Moroccan Lamb or Beef Tagine With Prunes ingredients

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  2. In a bowl, mix the meat with the onions, garlic, and spices.

    meat with onions, garlic, and spices in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  3. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat and brown the meat for a few minutes until a crust forms.

    meat with onions, garlic, and spices cooking in a pot

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  4. Place the meat mixture in the pressure cooker and add 2 1/2 cups of water and the cilantro. Over high heat, bring the meat and liquids to a simmer.

    meat mixture with cilantro and water in a pressure cooker

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  5. Cover tightly and continue heating until pressure is achieved. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook with pressure for 45 to 50 minutes.

    lamb cooking in the pressure cooker with herbs and spices

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  6. About halfway through cooking, remove 1/2 cup of the liquid and reserve.

    meat cooking liquid in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  7. After the meat has cooked, release the pressure and reduce the sauce, uncovered, until it is mostly oil and onion.

    lamb and spices in a pressure cooker

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Cook the Prunes

  1. While the meat is cooking, put the prunes in a small pot and cover with water. Simmer over medium heat, partially covered, until the prunes are tender enough to easily pinch off the pit or pinch in half. (The amount of time this takes can vary greatly depending on the prunes, but the average is 15 to 30 minutes.)

    prunes with water in a pot

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  2. Drain the prunes, then add the 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid from the meat.

    prunes with lamb cooking liquid in a pot

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  3. Stir in the honey, sugar, and ground cinnamon, and simmer the prunes for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until they are sitting in a thick syrup.

    honey, sugar, and ground cinnamon with prunes in a pot

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

To Serve

  1. Arrange the meat on a large serving platter and spoon the prunes and syrup on top.

    Pressure Cooker Moroccan Lamb or Beef Tagine With Prunes on a plate

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  2. If desired, garnish with sesame seeds and/or fried almonds. Moroccan tradition is to gather around the table and eat from this communal plate, using Moroccan bread to scoop up the meat and sauce. 

    Pressure Cooker Moroccan Lamb or Beef Tagine With Prunes on a plate with garnish

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Recipe Variations

  • If Using a Conventional Pot: Add the meat, onion, garlic, and spice mixture to the pot along with the 2 1/2 cups water and cilantro. 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. (Note: About halfway through cooking, remove 1/2 cup of the liquid and reserve.) If necessary, add a small amount of water during cooking to prevent the meat from scorching. When the meat has cooked, reduce the sauce until it is mostly oil and onions. Following the remaining instructions for cooking the prunes and serving.
  • If Using a Clay or Ceramic Tagine: Slice one of the onions instead of grating it, and layer the onion rings on the bottom of the tagine. Mix the meat with the grated onion, garlic, oil, butter and spices, and place on the sliced onion. Add 2 1/2 cups water, cover, and place the tagine on a diffuser over 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. Allow the tagine to cook for 3 hours or longer until the meat is very tender and the liquids are reduced. (Note: About 2 hours into the cooking, remove 1/2 cup of the liquid and reserve.) Follow the remaining instructions for cooking the prunes and serving. If you've cooked in a tagine, it doubles as a serving dish.