I have something to confess: this meaty casserole started out as the Turkish version Kayısılı Kuzu Yahnısı actually a speciality of Konya in the heart of Anatolia, but clearly descending from the Persian tradition of combining meat with fruit.
I made it, it was delicious, but then I saw another recipe in BBC Good Food.
The ingredients were almost identical EXCEPT for the addition of butternut squash (bal kabak here), chopped tomatoes and that most exotic of spices ras el hanout. So hey presto, the second time round, my dish turned into a TAGINE!!
As we all know, tagines are Moroccan in origin. (Before you decide that you’ve never heard of ras el hanout, click on the How To tab at the top of this post..).
This tagine recipe is much tastier than the Turkish look-alike. There, I’ve said it! Plus the fact that I baked the kabak drizzled with olive oil in the oven first before adding it to the casserole.
Mmm. I could just stop right there and eat it straight from the oven tray… the taste is divine. Anyway, the tagine is more full-bodied, fruitier,a touch spicier – a case of almost the same but better!
You could also use dried prunes in the Turkish version but I stuck with dried apricots. Just as a little aside: above is a picture of some but one variety is orange and the other black.
Do you know the difference? We are far more attuned to the orange-coloured type and this is what I used simply to provide a contrast with the brown-coloured meat.
But the other type is more natural/doğal as they are sun-dried. The orange ones are treated with sulphur dioxide in order to preserve them as well as their colour so actually brown is best!
*I BAKED THIS IN THE OVEN AT 180C FOR 30 MINS TO SOFTEN AS IT IS HARDER THAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH
- Pre-heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
- Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole dish, add the onion and cook for 5 mins until softened. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a couple mins more, stirring
- to prevent them catching and burning.
- Add the lamb, squash and apricots to the casserole, pour over the tomatoes and stock, season well and bring to the boil.
- Put the lid on and transfer to the oven. After 1 hr, stir the tagine and return to the oven, uncovered, for a further 30 mins.
- Check the seasoning. Sprinkle over the zest and coriander, and serve in warm bowls with couscous and yogurt./bulgur pilavı.
I made this for our family Christmas buffet supper party last night x 3 and served it with rice. It looked festive and inviting, and went down a treat! I also made a fish dish – more about that later!