Middle Eastern Lamb Ragout with Apricots

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

The Mediterranean Kitchen

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 1998

  • About

The combination of meat and fruit is very popular in the cuisine of the Middle East. The Iraqi lamb and dried fruit stews, Moroccan tagines, and Persian khoresh are closely related. We Americans, with our predilection for sweets with our meats (witness our love of turkey with cranberry relish, roast chicken with watermelon pickle, pork chops with applesauce), should find this recipe a natural.



  • ½ cup olive oil
  • teaspoons ground coriander
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed well and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • ¼ cup hot stock or water
  • ¾ pound dried apricots
  • 1 cup dark or golden raisins
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • teaspoons ground coriander
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 to 4 cups Lamb or Chicken Stock
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons honey (optional)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped almonds or sesame seeds for garnish


For the marinade, combine all ingredients and rub over the lamb in a shallow nonaluminum container. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Crush the saffron threads and steep 10 minutes in the hot stock. Soak the apricots and raisins 1 hour in hot water to cover; drain, reserving the soaking liquid.

Let the meat warm to room temperature. Heat ¼ cup butter with 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy casserole or saucepan 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.

Melt the remaining ¼ cup butter in the same pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook 7 to 10 minutes. Add the spices and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes longer. Return the meat to the pan with any accumulated juices. Add the saffron infusion and enough stock to cover. Heat to boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer covered over low heat 1 hour. Add the raisins and apricots and simmer until the meat is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Skim well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the stew is too tart, add 4 to 6 tablespoons soaking liquid from the dried fruit and simmer 5 minutes. If the stew is still too tart, add the honey.

Garnish with almonds or sesame seeds if you like, and serve with rice or couscous.