Moroccan Tagine With Quinces (Safarjal) and Honey

lamb and quince tagine
Barbara Bonisolli/StockFood Creative/Getty Images
Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 70 mins
Total: 95 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
782 Calories
48g Fat
50g Carbs
41g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 782
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 48g 61%
Saturated Fat 20g 100%
Cholesterol 167mg 56%
Sodium 463mg 20%
Total Carbohydrate 50g 18%
Dietary Fiber 5g 19%
Total Sugars 12g
Protein 41g
Vitamin C 36mg 182%
Calcium 68mg 5%
Iron 5mg 31%
Potassium 952mg 20%
*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 classic tagine recipe with lamb or beef is an easy, delicious way to take advantage of the unique flavor of the quintessential fall fruit—quinces, or safarjal as they're known in Arabic. As with other Moroccan fruit tagines, this one features savory, aromatic seasoning combined with the sweet flavors of fruit, honey, and cinnamon.


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

  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped

  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic

  • 1 or 2 (2- to 3-inch) pieces cinnamon stick

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon ras el hanout

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 7 tablespoons (3.5 ounces) unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, tied into a bouquet

  • 1 to 1 1/2 kilograms (3 pounds) quinces

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cooking liquid from the quinces

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons broth from the meat

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 pinch salt

Steps to Make It

Cook the Meat

  1. Set the saffron and cilantro aside.

  2. Place the meat, onions, garlic, remaining spices, oil, and 4 tablespoons of butter in a pressure cooker or heavy-bottomed pot. Stir to mix well, then brown the meat over medium-high heat.

  3. Add the saffron, cilantro, and about 3 cups of water.

  4. Cover and cook with pressure for about 45 minutes, or simmer without pressure for an hour and a half, or until the meat is very tender.

  5. Reserve 3 to 4 tablespoons of the broth, then reduce the remaining liquids until the sauce is thick.

Cook the Quinces

  1. While the meat is cooking, prepare the quinces. Peeling is not necessary, but you may do so. Cut them into quarters or eighths (small quinces may be cut only in half), then core them.

  2. Put the finished sections of quince into a bowl of water as you work to avoid their turning brown.

  3. Drain the quinces and transfer them to a skillet or pot.

  4. Cover with fresh water, add a teaspoon of sugar and bring to a boil.

  5. Simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the quinces are tender but still firm enough to hold their shape.

  6. Drain the quinces, reserving several tablespoons of the poaching liquid in the pot.

  7. Add the reserved broth, remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, cinnamon, sugar, honey, and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until thick syrup forms.

  8. Occasionally stir or turn the quinces to coat them with the syrup on all sides. (Note that using a skillet will allow the quinces to glaze in the syrup without breaking during stirring evenly.)

To Serve

  1. Discard the cilantro. Place the meat and sauce on a serving platter. Arrange the quinces all around, spooning the syrup over the meat and fruit.

  2. Serve tagines with Moroccan bread or another crusty bread for scooping everything up.


  • While some recipes for quince tagine might call for a smaller ratio of quinces to meat, I prefer lots of fruit in this particular dish. The quantity of fruit is easily adjusted. Beef and lamb are most popular, but goat is common in some regions. Pieces of meat on the bone will give the most flavor. You may also use chicken; adjust cooking time accordingly.
  • Feel free to include a little Ras el Hanout in the seasoning. If you omit this, try adding a tiny pinch of nutmeg and one or two cloves. Cooking time is for a pressure cooker. Allow more time if preparing the stew in a pot.
  • To prepare the dish in a traditional tagine, slice one of the onions instead of chopping it; do not separate the rings of onion. Arrange the onion slices on the bottom of a tagine and scatter the chopped onion over them. Arrange the meat on the onions, then add the oil, butter, seasoning, cilantro, and about 3 cups of water. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, using a diffuser under a clay or ceramic tagine if your heat source is something other than gas.
  • Cook the tagine until the meat is tender and the liquids are reduced, between two and three hours for beef; sometimes longer for lamb or large pieces of meat. Add more water during the cooking if you feel too much has evaporated. 
  • Follow the directions above for cooking the quinces. When ready, add the quinces and syrup directly to the tagine, which will double as your serving dish.