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Moroccan Tagine of Lamb or Beef with Prunes

User Rating 5 Star Rating (3 Reviews)


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Beef or lamb with prunes is a classic Moroccan dish that combines sweet prunes and meat with the fragrant spices of ginger, saffron, cinnamon and pepper. It's often served at holiday gatherings, weddings and other special occasions with Moroccan bread for scooping up the meat and sauce.

Meat and Prunes can be prepared in a pressure cooker, conventional pot or clay or ceramic tagine. Use tender cuts of meat (some pieces on the bone) for the best results.

Cooking time is for a pressure cooker. Allow double or triple this time for other methods.

Also see Sweet and Spicy Moroccan Tagines.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 lb. (about 1 kg) tender beef or lamb, cut into three inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions, grated or very finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (or 1/4 teaspoon Moroccan yellow colorant)
  • 1 or 2 3" to 4" pieces of cinnamon stick 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter or vegetable oil
  • handful of cilantro sprigs, tied together into a bouquet
  • -------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • 1/2 lb. (about 1/4 kg) prunes
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • -------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • 1 tablespoon toasted golden sesame seeds (optional)
  • handful of fried almonds (optional)


Cook the Meat

Conventional pot or pressure cooker method: Mix the meat with the onions, garlic, spices, and oils. Brown the meat for a few minutes over medium heat. Add 2 1/2 cups of water and the cilantro. Over high heat, bring the meat and liquids to a fast simmer.

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

If using a conventional pot, cover and simmer the meat over medium heat for two to two-and-half hours, until the meat is very tender and breaks away easily from the bone. (Note: About halfway through cooking, remove and reserve 1/2 cup of the liquids.) 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.

Clay or ceramic tagine method: 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, oils and spices, and place on the onion rings. 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 three hours or longer, until the meat is very tender and the liquids are reduced. (Note: About two hours into the cooking, remove and reserve 1/2 cup of the liquids.)

Cook the Prunes

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 quite tender. (How long this takes can vary greatly depending on the prunes, but the average time is 15 to 30 minutes.) Drain the prunes, and add the 1/2 cup of liquids reserved from the meat. Stir in the honey, sugar and cinnamon, and simmer the prunes another 10 minutes, or until they are sitting in a thick syrup.

To Serve

Put the meat on a large serving platter (if you've cooked in a tagine, it will also be used as the serving dish), and spoon the prunes and syrup on top. If desired, garnish with fried almonds and/or sesame seeds.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
Perfect. Love it., Member m1986_

Great recipe, flavour and taste. Thanks for breaking it down for different cooking methods. I've made this twice in a clay tagine and turns out fantastic. I also like to add in blanched almonds to the tagine about 15-20mins before removing from heat - a great touch. Also I like to serve it with potato fries spread all over the top of the meat. Just like in the old country. Peace

1 out of 1 people found this helpful.

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