Lamb and Quince Tagine


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


  • 4 lamb shanks (1 ¼ 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 ½ teaspoons ground ginger

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 9 cups water

  • ¼ cup honey

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

  • ½ 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


  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.

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