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Lamb Shanks Tagine with Root Vegetables

I haven't been good about posting recipes that use a tagine. I don't know why, but I've set a goal to remedy that...especially since I'm leading the kids in my Spices of the Souk class in making a chicken tagine with preserve lemons and olives on Friday. So, bear with me as I get all of these photos off of my computer and recipes written.

A tajine or tagine is a Maghrebi dish named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. So, it refers to both the cooking vessel and the resulting food; it is also called a maraq/marqa in North Africa and the Middle East.

Mentions of the tagine date back to Harun al-Rashid who was a ruler of the Early Muslim conquests and it appears in the 9th century collection of stories One Thousand and One Nights. At the same time, it was noted during the Islamic reign of the Abbasid Empire that stretched from the Middle East/Asia to North Africa and Andalusia. 

The dish was used by nomadic Bedouin people of the Arabian Peninsula, who added dried fruits such as dates, apricots and plums to it. Tagine is traditionally cooked over hot charcoal with the shape of the lid acting as a self-basting tool. The circular base is flat with low sides and the cover is a large cone-shape that sits on the base during cooking. The cover is designed to collect all condensation and re-direct to back to the bottom. 

Lamb Shanks Tagine with Root Vegetables

  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 T sumac
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • 1 T ground turmeric
  • 1 t + 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1 t + 1 T ground coriander
  • 1 T fresh minced ginger
  • 1 t Aleppo pepper
  • olive oil as needed
  • 2 onions, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 4 potatoes, cubed
  • 4 to 5 carrots, sliced into thick coins 
  • 1 C diced tomatoes or 1 C tomato sauce
  • 2 C beef stock + more as needed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • freshly ground salt, as needed
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed
  • pickles for serving (I used pickled cranberries and preserved lemons)

Sprinkle lamb shanks with 1 t ground cinnamon and 1 t ground coriander and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight. In a small mixing bowl blend all of your spices - sumac, smoked paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, and Aleppo pepper. Add in enough olive oil to create a thick paste.

Add a splash of olive oil to the bottom of the tagine along with the garlic cloves. Brown the lamb shanks on all sides over medium-high heat. Stir in the spice paste and pour in the stock. Bring to a boil, place the cover on the tagine, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 90 minutes to 2 hours. The meat should be tender and cooked through.

Pour in the tomatoes and layer in the onions, potatoes, and carrots. Add in more stock, if there's less than an inch of liquid. Tuck the cinnamon sticks into the pot and bring liquid to a boil. Cover, again, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for another 30 to 45 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Check occasionally to make sure the bottom doesn't burn. Stir, as needed.

To serve, remove the lamb shanks from the pot. Gently mash the veggies. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with pickled cranberries and preserved lemons.


  1. I am so jealous of your tagine. It is beautiful and I just know you are going to make so many delicious things with it!

    1. Thanks, Carlee. I know what you mean about the tagine. I'm simultaneously wanting to use it all the time because it's beautiful...and also wanting to hide it in case something happens to it!

  2. Oh the flavors in this dish! Wow... this looks incredible!

  3. I have a tagine, but have only used it for baking bread, lol! I need to remedy that!

  4. This looks amazing! I've never had lamb, but I definitely need to try one of these days!

  5. This sounds so delicious! I love the tagine, too!

  6. I've never had tagine, but going to have to change that!

  7. That tagine is beautiful! I'm curious what sumac spice tastes like?


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