Spiced beef, potato and apricot tagine (#43)

It took me a while to get round to making this one. For numerous reasons: There’s a two hour stint in the oven, there are apricots involved, and the ingredients list looks intimidating (although it really shouldn’t to me considering my burgeoning spice draw).

For a weekend dinner party this one would be such an impressive meal to whack out. Hearty meal for happy guests (etc).

The taste, texture, and terrific smell are what you get for actually something which doesn’t require huge amounts of prep and cooking. Yes, the below looks bulky because of the long spice list, but they can all be set aside in a small bowl beforehand and added in one go. A few different things need to be chopped, minced and weighed, but other than that (assuming your meat is pre-diced) it really is as simple as adding the ingredients sequentially and slamming in the oven.

On the particular Sunday that I choose to make this I must have stumbled across my first known diced lamb shortage. I looked high, I searched low. Nowhere was lamb to be found. I even went to the meat counter at Waitrose and walked away empty handed. I probably should have got out of bed earlier. Nevertheless, I settled on diced beef, as I was adamant I wanted to make this dish. The result was just as superb, although I will remake this with lamb to get the more authentic Levantine package.

I salute Nigella’s latest,  At My Table, for this beauty.

Good things: long time in the oven, little actual work, impressive results.

Bad things: I don’t have 2 hours on a weekday. Do you?

Ingredients & requirements: serves 6ish

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • 2 short cinnamon sticks
  • 2 fat garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspooons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground parika
  • a pinch of ground cloves
  • 4 cracked cardamom pods
  • 750g of diced beef or lamb (but lamb is recommended)
  • 1kg of potatoes
  • 200g of soft dried apricots
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 750ml cold water
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes

Preparation & cooking (serves 6)

  1. Preparation
    1. Preheat the oven to 150C Fan
    2. Peel and roughly chop 2 onions. Set aside.
    3. Minced the 2 garlic cloves and mince the fresh ginger until you have a tablespoon. Set aside.
    4. Put together in a small bowl the spices:
      1. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
      2. 2 teaspooons ground coriander
      3. 1 teaspoon ground allspice
      4. 1 teaspoon ground parika
      5. a pinch of ground cloves
      6. 4 cracked cardamom pods
    5. Peel and cut 750g of potatoes into 2-3cm chunks
    6. Set aside 200g of apricots
  2. Cooking
    1. Warm 4 tablespoons olive oil in a casserole or ovenproof pan, and add the following and cook gently for 9-10 mins:
      1. the 2 chopped onions
      2. 2 short cinnamon sticks
    2. Add the following and stir in:
      1. 2 minced garlic cloves and minced fresh ginger (1 tablespoon)
      2. spice mix as above
    3. Tip in the 750g of diced beef or lamb and stir into the oil
    4. Then add the potato chunks and do the same
    5. Finally, add the following, stir, and bring to the boil:
      1. 200g of apricots
      2. 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
      3. swill the tin with some water and add that to the pan as well
      4. 750ml cold water
      5. 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
    6. Once boiling, bung in the oven for 2 hours until tender. Keep going for another 20 mins or so if required.
    7. Let it stand for 10, give a stir, and get serving!

I served this with couscous. Rice could be permissible if you weren’t fussed about authenticity – which you don’t need to be in cooking, I suppose.


Ask me about this and I’ll just scream the word ‘yes’ at you.

For readers who love Middle Eastern food you might raise an eyebrow at my being putting off by the dried apricots. Put simply, yes I love a good tagine. Yes, the dried fruit is scrumptious and the texture pleasing when I eat it. But my memory plays tricks and if I see it in plain text my mind tells me the texture would be unpleasant. Of course, that’s nonsense. If you have a similar ridiculous mental prejudice, please make sure you set it aside to try this dish.

Once again, this would be super impressive at a dinner party. As a single man in the big city with a day job that makes him hungry, large batches dispatched to Tupperware for the rest of the week worked wonders for me.



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