Sunday, 31 January 2010

Lamb Tagine with Red Onion & Pomegranate Relish

I was intending to make this over the Christmas period (it comes from Nigella's Christmas book) but somehow never got around to it. A couple of weeks later though the carton of pomegranate juice I had bought for the purpose was still sitting in the fridge so I thought I may aswell use it up while it was still in date.

The tagine itself is a pretty simple recipe and easy to make. I had intended to eat it on the day it was made however at the end of the cooking time there was a pretty substantial layer of oil sitting on the top. I decided instead to cool it down and put in the fridge overnight so I could easily scoop off the fat the next day.

The tagine turned out to be lovely - the spices giving a lovely subtle flavour to the tender lamb. The surprise of the evening, however, turned out to be the Red Onion and Pomegranate relish. Now don't go shaking your head and saying you don't do raw onion - trust me this is gooood. I thought twice about making it myself but I'm so glad I did. It turned out to be the making of the dish. Soaking the onion in the lime and pomegranate juice all but elimated the strong oniony flavour and turned it into a sweet, crunchy accompaniment to the lamb - delicious.

Lamb & Date Tagine
(adapted from Nigella Christmas)

3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1kg diced leg of lamb
250g soft dried pitted dates or pitted medjool dates
250ml pur pomegranate juice, from a bottle
250ml water
2 teaspoons Maldon salt or 1 teaspoon table salt

1) Warm the oil in a large frying pan, add the oil and cook them gently over a low heat for 10 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally

2) Add all of the spices and turn well in the onions

3) Turn up the heat and add the meat, turning it occasionally until it is browned on all sides

4) Add the dates, pomegranate juice, water and salt and bring to the boil. Put the lid on, turn down the heat to an absolute minimum and let it cook ultra-gently for two hours. Alternatively you can cook it in a shallow casserole in the oven for two hours at 150c/gas mark 2

5) As mentioned above this best cooked a day or two in advance and any fat skimmed off the top when cool. After cooking allow to cool and store in the fridge for up to three days. When ready to serve return it to the pan and add 75ml water. Bring slowly to the boil and let it bubble gently for 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat to a minimum and simmer, stirring for 15-20 minutes. Add a little more water while cooking if necessary.

Red Onion & Pomegranate Relish
(adapted from Nigella Christmas)

1 red onion
60ml lime juice
juice and 40g seeds from 1 large pomegranate or 60ml pure pomegranate juice from a bottle and 40g pomegranate seeds from a packet
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
salt to taste

1) Peel and cut the onion in half and cut into very thin half-moons

2) Put the onions into a bowl with the lime juice and pomegranate juice, and let them steep for half an hour

3) Drain the steeped onion into a little bowl, discarding the oniony juice, and add the pomegranate seeds

4) Toss with the coriander and season with a little salt

5) Strew some of the relish on top of the tagine and serve the rest in a bowl on the side

Both dishes serve 6-8

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