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Lamb and Quince Tagine

This savory Moroccan lamb stew is perfumed with ginger, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and vanilla.

  • Yield: Serves 4
Lamb and Quince Tagine

Photography: MARIA ROBLEDO

Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2007


  • 4 lamb shanks (1 1/4 pounds each)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 9 cups water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 4 quinces (about 2 pounds total), peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Cooked couscous, for serving
  • 3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 quinces (about 1 pound total), peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups Sauternes
  • 2 green cardamom pods, gently cracked
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 piece (1 inch) peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
  • Pinch coarse salt
  • 1 cup water


  1. Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, brown lamb shanks on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer lamb shanks to a bowl.

  2. Add onions, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and cayenne to drippings in pot, and cook 4 minutes. Return lamb and any juices to pot, and add enough water to cover (about 5 cups). Add honey, 1/3 cup cilantro, and the saffron, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer gently until lamb is tender, about 2 hours.

  3. Meanwhile, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add quinces and lemon juice. Cover with parchment cut to fit pan. Reduce heat, and simmer gently until tender but not falling apart, about 40 minutes. Drain, and then remove cores. Transfer half the quinces to a food processor, and puree. (Alternatively, mash with a fork.)

  4. Place lamb on a plate. Raise heat to medium-high, and simmer to reduce liquid by half, about 20 minutes, skimming fat. Return lamb to pot, and add whole and pureed quinces. Cook until sauce has thickened, 20 to 25 minutes.

  5. To serve, season tagine with salt and pepper. Spoon couscous into bowls, top with tagine, and sprinkle with remaining 2/3 cup cilantro and the almonds.

  6. Add quinces and sugar, and stir to coat. Stir in remaining ingredients, and cover with parchment cut to fit pan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer gently until tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Spoon quinces and syrup into bowls.

Reviews (2)

  • sixty six 18 May, 2014

    I agree with the previous poster, Step 6 is not part of this recipe and neither are the list of ingredients from after the almonds.
    This recipe sounds delicious. I have some frozen cooked quinces from earlier in the year (I'm in New Zealand) and I also have some fuyu persimmons ripening on my windowsill. I'll try this recipe first with the persimmons. Luckily, my daughter works in the meat industry here in NZ and she keeps me supplied with top-quality boned-out lamb legs.

  • xprmntl 22 Nov, 2011

    Very interesting recipe. I think step 6 is not part of the recipe. And the requirement for sautern makes this a bit prohibitive for most... Some sweet reisling, gewurztraminer or a white port would be a bit more accessible.

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