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Moroccan Beef or Lamb Tagine with Artichokes, Olives and Preserved Lemon


Moroccan Beef or Lamb Tagine with Artichokes, Olives and Preserved Lemon

Tagine with Artichoke Bottoms, Olives and Preserved Lemon

Photo © Christine Benlafquih

Fresh artichokes are a winter vegetable in Morocco, where the fleshy, concave bottoms are often used in tagine recipes like this one. Here, the bottoms are simply paired with beef or lamb (goat meat may also be used). Saffron and ginger are key to the traditional seasoning, while preserved lemon and olives add complementary flavor.

The prep time below does not include cleaning and paring fresh artichokes, which can be done well in advance of preparing the tagine. See How to Clean Artichoke Bottoms. Frozen, ready-to-use artichoke bottoms may also be used, but there is a slight compromise in flavor.

This tagine recipe is modified for a pressure cooker. If using a Dutch oven or pot, double the cooking times and add water as necessary during cooking. See the tips below if using a clay or ceramic tagine.

Also see the recipes for Tagine with Fava Beans and Artichokes and Tagine with Peas and Artichokes.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: Serves 4 to 6.


  • 1 lb. (about 1/2 kg) lamb or beef, or more if desired
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 to 2 lb. (700 to 900 g) artichoke bottoms
  • 1 preserved lemon, quartered and seeded
  • 1 handful of red (violet) olives


Cut the meat into 3" pieces. Wash, drain and place in a pressure cooker along with the onions, garlic, olive oil, parsley, cilantro, and spices (except for the saffron). Stir to mix well.

Cook the meat over medium heat, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, stirring several times to turn the meat and brown it on all sides.

Add about three cups of water, cover the pressure cooker, and increase the heat to high. When pressure has been achieved, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes.

Release the pressure and add the saffron and artichoke bottoms. If necessary, add a little more water (the liquids need not cover the artichokes, but they all should be partially submerged). Cover, bring back to pressure and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the artichoke hearts are tender. (Larger artichoke bottoms will require the full 15 minutes; smaller ones a bit less time.)

Release the pressure and add the preserved lemon and olives. Simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes until a rich sauce has formed.

Serve with bread for scooping up the meat and vegetables.

Tips for Cooking in a Clay or Ceramic Tagine

Allow 3 to 4 hours cooking time. Use a large onion rather than a medium-sized one. Mix the meat, onion, spices (including saffron), herbs and oil in a tagine and place on a diffuser over medium-low heat. Allow the tagine to heat slowly to a simmer, cover and cook the meat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown it.

Arrange the artichoke bottoms over and around the meat, add 2 cups warm water, cover and allow the tagine to return to a simmer. Cook for 2 1/2 hours, add the preserved lemon and olives (and a little more water if you think it necessary), and continue cooking for another 30 to 60 minutes, until the meat is tender enough to break apart with the fingers and the sauce is reduced and thick. Serve the dish directly from the tagine.

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