The Moroccans have an enticing way of combining ingredients with aromatic spices, and sweetness is often mixed with savoury to great effect. Their cooking is a combination of simplicity and sophistication. Their tagines (simply a stew cooked in an earthenware dish with a pointed lid which collects and adds moisture) can be as easy to make as an Irish stew but are much more exciting to look at, and wonderful to eat. Serve this tagine with a bowl of couscous or chickpeas and a simple salad. If you like, sprinkle it with a few whole coriander leaves before serving. This recipe is adapted for a kitchen that does not have a traditional Moroccan tagine — if you do have one, you can use it as the serving dish.
Cut the lamb into 5cm/2in pieces and put them into a large, heavy-based saucepan. Cut the pepper in half, remove the seeds and stem and then cut the flesh in strips lengthways. Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Peel the ginger and slice it thinly.
Add the red pepper, garlic and ginger to the meat, together with the spices and the butter. Season with salt and black pepper and add the water, which should just cover the meat. Cover the pan and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for about 1½ hours or until the meat is meltingly tender.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat, red pepper, slices of ginger etc. to a heated, rounded serving dish, leaving the liquid in the saucepan. Cover the meat mixture loosely with foil and keep warm in a very low oven.
Cut the tops off the okra and put them in a saucepan of boiling salted water for about 3 minutes, until just tender and bright green. Drain and keep on one side.
Add the almonds, lemon juice and honey to the juices in the saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the honey, then boil fiercely without stirring, for 10-20 minutes, until the sauce is reduced and syrupy. Pour off any fat from the top. Now mix the cooked okra with the meat, spoon the sauce and almonds all over the tagine and serve immediately.
© 1997 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.