This is my recipe for Passover using lamb shoulder, Moroccan spices and sweet dried fruits which come together to form a rich, luscious stew. A large piece of lamb is simmered very gently for a few hours with onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, prunes and apricots: a long cook that tastes like my childhood and is steeped in my family's Jewish Moroccan culture and love of food.
1 lamb shoulder, 2.5kg, off the bone (keep the bones for flavour and snacking)
2 onions, finely chopped
8 pieces of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp turmeric
A pinch of ground allspice
500ml chicken stock (you won’t use all of it)
1 cup (200g) pitted dried prunes
1 cup (175g) pitted dried apricots
Half a bottle of red (I used pinot noir)
1 bunch Dutch carrots
A handful of parsley, finely chopped and coriander sprigs to garnish
½ cup sliced toasted almonds to garnish
Season the lamb shoulder with plenty of salt and pepper and rub over a drop of olive oil.
Warm a drop of olive oil in a heavy-based casserole, then brown the meat on both sides over medium heat before browning the leftover lamb bones.
Put the meat and bones to the side while you gently sear the onions until translucent, followed by the garlic and ginger.
Stir the spices through the onions, letting all the ingredients meet and become beautifully fragrant for a couple of minutes.
Return the lamb and bones to the pan and add half a bottle of red wine. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a gentle bubble, then cover and let slowly cook over a low flame.
Cook for about an hour, then add in half a cup of chicken stock along with the prunes and apricots and turn the lamb over so that the other side becomes immersed in the liquid.
Keep cooking for another 1 ½ - 2 hours or until very tender (about 3 hours altogether). Every now and then prod the meat with a knife to see how the lamb is doing, if it looks dry at all add in a little more chicken stock or water: by the end it should be incredibly soft but still holding its shape, sweet and almost sticky.
In the last hour of cooking add the carrots into the pot so that they soak up all the sweet flavours and in the last half an hour allow the meat to cook uncovered.
Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Let rest for a few hours, then reheat gently. Serve the lamb together with all the thick sweet juices, topped with toasted almonds, parsley and coriander.