Jul 22, 2012

Moroccan Tajine\Tagine with Walnuts and Dates

Majhoul dates are my favorite.  They are large and ever so sweet.  When I found a recipe with lamb and dates, I was curious how the combination would work.  I was pleasantly surprised. Sweet tajines are usually prepared with dried figs or apricots or even prunes. If dates are added this gives it a touch of luxury. Tajines like this are served to an honored guest.  I found this recipe in a book called Morocco: Mediterranean Cuisine by Konemann

Before I started cooking Moroccan food, my only experience with dates was at Christmas time.  I remember them being sent to the place where I worked in a basket and was covered with powdered sugar.  I have done lots of things with dates since that time.  This recipe calls for orange flower water.  I am going to be honest with you, I don't like the taste of it.  Whenver a recipe calls for it I use it sparingly or not at all.  However, don't be afraid to use it.  You may like the taste of it.  I did use it in this recipe.


Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups of majhoul dates
1 3/4 cups shelled walnuts
orange flower water

For Marinade:
2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
a pinch of saffron
1 tsp ginger
1 cinnamon stick
salt/pepper to taste
water
1 1/2 lbs of lamb, cut into equal sized pieces, it should be boneless
6-7 tbs olive oil

For Syrup:
1 1/3 cup of sugar
1 1/2 tbs orange flower water
ground cinnamon

Remove the pit from the dates and fill them with walnuts.  Soak for about 5 minutes in orange flower water. 

For the marinade, place the onions, garlic, saffron, ginger, cinnamont, salt and pepper to a bowl.  Pour about 1 cup of water in bowl and mix well.  Next add the lamb and mix well. Add to a large saucepan, cover with water.  Bring to a boil and then add the olive oil.  Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender. 

For the syrup, bring 3 cups of water, sugar and orange flower water to a boil, then add about 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Place the filled dates into the syrup and then take out again.  Otherwise, the skin of the dates will start to peel backwards.  Soak the remaining walnuts in the syrup for a few minutes and then put them in a 300 degree oven to dry out for about 3-4 minutes. 

Arrange on a plate with the meat on the bottom and put the dates on top.  Garnish with syrup coated walnuts.  Serve with a salad and crispy bread.  Enjoy!

Cooks Note:  I added about 3 tbs of parsley to the recipe.  I think that it added more flavor.