Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Lemon and Olives

Preparation info

  • Serves

    6 to 8

    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Mediterranean Kitchen

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 1998

  • About

This is not the real thing, but a Square One adaptation. Our customers were not wild about the briny taste of the traditional salt-preserved lemons, so we have substituted our own version, actually a quick lemon conserve that eliminates the bitterness of the lemons.



  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed well and cut into 1½-inch cubes


For the marinade, combine all ingredients to make a paste and rub it over the lamb cubes in a shallow nonaluminum container. Cover and let stand 3 hours at room temperature or refrigerate overnight.

For the lemons, wipe the lemons with a clean towel and cut into eighths (or sixteenths, if the lemons are large). To remove the bitterness from the peel, boil the lemons in water to cover 3 minutes, rinse under cold water, then soak in cold water 1 hour. Combine 1 cup water and the sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemons and simmer until tender, 20 to 30 minutes (or about half that time for Meyer lemons). Remove from heat, let cool, and drain.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, deep sauté pan over high heat. Add as many lamb cubes as will comfortably fit in the pan (overcrowding will cause the lamb to steam rather than brown) and brown on all sides; set aside. Repeat with the remaining lamb cubes, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons oil to the pan as needed for each batch.

Heat the remaining oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the paprika, ginger, and garlic and cook 3 minutes more. Return the lamb to the pan, add the stock, and heat to boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the lamb is tender, about 1½ hours. Add the artichokes, if using, and simmer until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Add the lemons, olives, cilantro, and parsley; skim well and simmer 5 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper (we like this peppery). Serve with couscous and Harissa.