Lamb shank tagine with mint couscous

Posted on 9 July 2019

This fragrant stew gets its name from the terracotta pot it’s cooked in. The clay holds in the heat and regulates the cooking process, making the meat inside so tender that it falls off the bone. Note: this delectable recipe will take just over three hours to make.

Lamb shank tagging with mint couscous. Image: Highbury Media.

Lamb shank tagging with mint couscous. Image: Gareth van Nelson, Highbury Media

Serves 8


6T olive oil

4T ras el hanout spice mix (see below)

4 lamb shanks, French trimmed

1 whole red chilli

1 clove garlic, grated

1 red onion, cut into wedges

3 carrots, cut into chunks

3 fennel bulbs, halved

1 bay leaf

2 large tomatoes, quartered

1 cup dried apricots

1 litre chicken stock

200g couscous

½ cup mint leaves

Salt and milled pepper

3 lemons, for zesting

2 cups full-cream plain yoghurt

1 cup pomegranate rubies


Preheat oven to 160˚C and warm the tagine (or casserole pot) in it for 10 minutes. If you don’t have an authentic terracotta tagine, an ovenproof casserole pot will do.

Rub 2 tablespoons olive oil and ras el hanout spice on the lamb shanks. Sear in a hot pan for 10 minutes, turning every few minutes. Remove and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pan and add chilli, garlic, onion, carrot, fennel and the bay leaf. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the lamb to the pan, then the tomatoes, apricots and stock, and bring to the boil.

Transfer the mixture to the warmed tagine, put the lid on and bake for 3 hours until the lamb is soft.

About 15 minutes before serving, put couscous and 2 tablespoons each of olive oil and mint in a bowl. Season to taste.

Pour over 2 cups of boiling water, cover with a plate and leave to ‘cook’ for 10 minutes.

In a serving bowl, mix the zest of 2 lemons with the yoghurt and set aside to allow flavour to develop.

Fluff up the couscous with a fork and decant into a serving bowl.

Take the tagine straight from the oven to the table. Dollop with yoghurt, sprinkle with pomegranate rubies,
zest of 1 lemon, and the rest of the mint, and serve with couscous.

Ras el hanout spice mMix

This blend – its name means ‘head of the shop’ – is the basis of countless Moroccan dishes. This recipe makes about five tablespoons of spice mix. Adjust the quantities proportionally if you want a good supply – it can last up to six months in a glass jar.

Mix together:

2t each ground cumin, ground ginger, ground cardamom
and salt

1½t milled black pepper

1t each cinnamon, ground coriander, cayenne pepper
and ground allspice

½t ground cloves


Recipes and styling: Chiara Turilli

Food photographs: Gareth van Nelson

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