Zucchini (courgette) gets nudged from side-dish status to main-dish fare in this easy Moroccan tagine recipe. Ginger, saffron and cinnamon impart exotic flavor to the sauce.
Either long zucchini or 8-ball (round) zucchini can be used in this dish. Beef or goat meat can be substituted for the lamb.
The cooking time given is for a pressure cooker. Allow for double this time if cooking in a conventional pot, and even longer if using a traditional tagine. All methods are explained below.
Serve with crusty Moroccan bread for scooping up the meat and vegetables.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
- 1 1/2 lbs. lamb, beef or goat meat, cut into 3" pieces
- 4 medium-sized zucchini*
- 1 large onion, chopped or thinly sliced
- 1 or 2 tomatoes, grated
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon gound cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
*To prep the zucchini for cooking, peel off a few strips of skin lengthwise from the zucchini, creating a striped effect. Remove the ends, and cut the zucchini either in half lengthwise, or into 1/2" thick slices.
Put the meat, onions, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, parsley, cilantro, and spices (except for the saffron) into a pressure cooker or pot. Stir to mix well.
Cook over medium to medium-high heat, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, stirring several times to turn the meat and brown it on all sides.
Add about 2 1/2 cups of water and the saffron, and cover. Bring to a boil over high heat.
If using a pressure cooker, allow pressure to be achieved, then reduce the heat to medium and cook with pressure for about 35 minutes, or until the meat is tender. Add the zucchini and simmer, partially covered, for about 10 minutes, or until the zucchini is cooked. If necessary, reduce the sauce until thick, and serve.
If using a conventional pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Add water if necessary to prevent scorching. When the meat is cooked, add the zucchini and simmer, partially covered, for about 10 minutes, or until the zucchini is cooked. If necessary, reduce the sauce until thick, and serve.
To Prepare in a Clay or Ceramic Tagine
To prepare this recipe in a traditional tagine, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Do not chop the parsley and cilantro – instead, tie them into a bouquet.
Put the grated tomato in the bottom of the tagine. Mix the onion, garlic, meat and spices in a bowl. Distribute the onions over the tomatoes and place the meat on top of them in the center. Arrange the zucchini around the meat, and top with the parsley and cilantro bouquet. Add the olive oil and 2 cups of water.
Cover the tagine, place it on a diffuser over medium heat, and allow the tagine to reach a simmer. Lower the heat to medium-low or low (just enough heat to maintain the simmer) and leave the tagine to cook undisturbed for 2 1/2 to three hours. Check towards the end of this time to be sure there is still liquid, and add only a small amount of water if necessary. When the meat is tender enough to pinch off the bone, reduce any excess liquid and serve immediately.