Moroccan prunes tajine: our classic family recipe

The Tajine with dry plums is undeniably one of the authentic Moroccan recipes which kind of represent the country and its culinary history, besides Harira soup, couscous versions, pastilla (check my previous posts). The list is actually longer than that.

I have no tajine in my Qatari kitchen (shame on me, blame the extra-kilos in my luggage), so I am serving in that funny plate.

I shouldn’t be using the waord “tagine” in my description of today’s dish I haven’t used a proper tagine vessel to cook it but because this is to show you than you can cook a Moroccan stew using a proper tagine or a dutchoven or pressure cooker..Surely a tagine especially cooked over charcoal taste way better but I’m sure this is not very convenient for everyone..

It is sweet and yet savory, what a balance! just perfect for a satisfying meal! Oh, about that, if you really want to cook THE authentic Plum tajine the Fez way, you can’t add cumin, you can’t add preserved lemon and no you can’t add harissa! Why am I saying that? Because i’ve seen it online and also boldly written in some cooking books who claim to reproduce the authentic recipe. I am sure that if they’ve taken the time to travel down here, they will get to know that such thing DOES NOT EXIST.

Prunes and apricot stew served differently, with a thicker onion gravy called “deghmira”

However, you may add apricots (like I did today), replace meat by chicken or any or your favourite. skip saffron or orange blossom which may not be available everywhere! CHOOSE THE BEST DRY PLUM! for better results. Finally, cook it with love (slow cooking is a form of love according to me).

For 2 persons
Prep: 10 min/ Cooking: 40 min to 1 hour

Meat and gravy

          400 g of good chunks of lamb or beef meat with bones (osso bucco cuts)
–     1 medium white or yellow onion finelly chopped
          Salt and white pepper to taste
          1 little bunch of coriander
          ½ tsp of turmeric
–     A few threads of saffron
          1 tsp of ginger powder (you can use 2 tsp of freshly grated one)
          1 cinnamon stick
          2 tbsp of olive oil/vegetable oil mixed together
–     Salt to taste

For the topping

          2 tbsp of honey

          2 tbsp of sugar
          ½ tsp of cinnamon
          300 g of dry plum, pre-soaked
          100 g of dry apricots, pre-seaked
          1 cinnamon stick
          2 tbsp of orange blossom water

1 handful of roasted almonds or toasted sesame seeds to decorate

The meat and its gravy
In a hot pot, sear the meat (all sides) in olive oil, add ginger, turmeric, the cinnamon stick, the onions and stir.
After a coupe of minutes, add in the bunch of coriander (use a string to keep it as a bouquet) and saffron threads. Cover with water and let simmer on medium heat. Slow cooking suits this dish to perfection but you can use a pressure cook to do the job. Cook until meat is tender ( anywhere between 40 min and 90 min depending whether you are using a tajine or a pressure cooker)..
Take the lid off and taste, add salt if needed. Add the white pepper and 1 tablespoon of accacia honey or equivalent, add the saffron and let simmer until most of the sauce has reduced. Cover and keep on the side.

To me, a good tagine or Moroccan stew should be nicely reduced to achieve a sort of thick sauce/gravy. It also tastes better than a pool version of it. Too much sauce is usually not a good sign of a good dish ahead however it’s convenient for a large family since they’ll use more bread to soak the sauce/broth and reach a level of satiety.

Poaching the dry fruits
Usually this step is done while the meat is cooking.
In a saucepan, mix 3 to 5 tbsp of the previous meat sauce diluted in enough water the cover the fruits. Add the cinnamon, the honey and the sugar and let simmer on medium heat for 20 min or until they plum up and soften. Let it reduce, add the orange blossom water at the very end of this process. Cover and set aside.

Discard the cinnamon sticks and the coriander if you like to. Serve after scooping the dry fruits on the top of the meat and its gravy. Sprinkle toasted almonds on the top, or roasted sesame seeds. Serve with bread. 
And while we are on the subject of Moroccan food, for the record, we do not serve our dishes with couscous. This is just for the tourists. We serve our food with bread mostly.

Couscous is served when the lunch is couscous and in that case it will be THE main dish, not as a side dish. So if it happens to you, show that you know. That said, it’s not a bad version either, just not authentic.

2 thoughts on “Moroccan prunes tajine: our classic family recipe

  1. That looks fantastic! What healthful ingredients and mouthwatering flavors! I believe you completely – restaurants sometimes cheat us of authentic cuisine :)Happy New Yearchow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors


  2. Happy new year to you! Actually most of moroccan food is healthy since it needs coupel of olive oil spoons to get a tajine a go.. the rest is all fresh vegetables with proteins and some spices.. No transfat, no processed food..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s