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Lamb Tagine with Apricots, Dates, and Yams

To be honest, what I’ve actually been searching for is a good recipe for Sali Boti, a Parsi lamb and apricot dish that I have every time I go to this wonderful Indian restaurant in Cambridge. I haven’t really seen any trustworthy recipes for it, though. If anyone reading this knows of any, I’d be very grateful if you’d send it my way.

In the meantime, lamb and apricots are good together in so many different ways. This is my adaptation of a Faye Levy recipe for lamb tagine. I’ve been sick lately, and with no one around to make me yet another pot of Mom’s Chicken Soup, this was the perfect comfort food for me to make for myself after I got sent home sick from work yesterday.

Lamb Tagine with Apricots, Dates, and Yams
2 1/2 lbs. lamb shoulder chops (or 2 lbs. boneless lamb)
Vegetable oil
2 medium red onions (chopped)
1/8 tsp saffron threads
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 C water (and more, later on)
1 lb. orange-fleshed sweet potatoes or yams (peeled and cut into approximately 3/4″ cubes)
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
nutmeg to taste
3/4 C dried Turkish apricots (sliced in half)
1 C pitted dates
1 tbsp honey

Cut the meat off the bone, if any, and remove all excess fat. This can be a bit of a hassle with lamb, but it’s worth the effort. Cut the meat into approximately 1″ cubes.

Heat about 1 tbsp oil in a heavy stew pot, and brown the meat and bones lightly on all sides over medium-high heat. This may work best in several batches, so you can keep them in a single layer throughout the browning process. Once browned, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.

Add more oil if necessary, then throw in the onions. Once the onions are thoroughly browned (but not burned), return the meat, bones, and any juices to the pot. Add saffron, salt, pepper, and water. Mix well, and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer until the lamb is tender, about an hour and fifteen minutes. The water won’t cover the lamb entirely, so check in on it and stir it around from time to time.

After an hour and fifteen minutes or so, remove the meat and bones from the pot and put them aside on a clean plate, leaving the onions behind. Remove any meat attached to the bones and keep it with the rest of meat, discarding the bones.

Add the yams or sweet potatoes to the pot and simmer, covered, for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, apricots, and dates, and simmer, covered, for another ten or fifteen minutes or so, still stirring from time to time, until the fruit and yams are soft. Depending on the proportions of your stew pot, you may need to add more water during this process if too much of it has simmered away.

Once all is tender, stir in the honey, then return the meat to the pot and simmer, covered, for about five minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste, and you’re done. I put quite a lot of black pepper in this, because it goes so well with all the sweetness of the fruits and yams.

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10 Responses to “Lamb Tagine with Apricots, Dates, and Yams”

  1. McAuliflower says:

    looks amazing! I’ve got a tgine that I need to put to use. Funny how most recipes for tagine I see don’t call for one :)

    What was it you adapted about the original recipe, otu of curiosity

  2. bonnie says:

    wow, that looks incredibly tasty & easy!

  3. novalis says:

    The Indian restaurant is Tanjore in Harvard Square. I also recommend their xacuti.

  4. Danielle says:

    McAuliflower – Thanks! I don’t have a tagine yet, though I keep meaning to buy one. My only real changes were ditching the almonds, since I can’t abide nuts as a general rule, and using dates instead of other fruit she suggested, because if you simmer dates long enough, they mostly dissolve into a thick, syrupy sauce that I just love.

    Bonnie – That it is. The hard part is waiting for all the simmering to finish up.

    Novalis – Yeah, yeah, I probably should’ve just asked you for the name before posting.

  5. Love love love Tajines! You are making me realize
    that I have not made many lately!
    I own many tajine dishes!!!
    Le Creuset is great!

    Lovely post!

  6. Helen says:

    Hi Danielle,

    This looks awesome! Just curious, which Cambridge do you mean?
    Cambridge England or Cambridge Boston? If Cambridge Boston,
    then we must be neighbors :)


  7. [...] Main Courses: Meat Crypto-Jewish Brazilian Yellow Stew Fall-Apart Lamb Shanks with Almond-Chocolate Picada Finnish Meatballs with Squid Ink Pasta Hortobágyi Palacsintak (Pancakes Stuffed with Meat Stew) Kabocha Beef Tagine with Chickpeas and Preserved Lemon Lamb Tagine with Apricots, Dates, and Yams Lamb Tagine with Pearl Onions, Dates, and Sugar Snap Peas Malaysian Beef Curry with Thick Onion Sauce (Daging Nasi Kandar) Sour Cherry Barbecue Sauce and Baby Back Ribs Spicy Beef Slices with Tangerine Peel Stewed Garlicky Black Bean Spare Ribs Stir-Fried String Beans with Pork and Pork Töltött Káposzta (Stuffed Cabbage) [...]

  8. Julia says:

    I made this the other night and holy crap it is tasty. Cutting the meat off the bone was a serious PITA, but it did let me gnaw meat bits off the bones after I removed them from the stew pot for the yams to go in.

    I added some pomegranate molasses to mine which added an interesting sour sweetness to the mix which I liked.

  9. Dr. Simin V. Bharucha says:

    Hi, I was breezing through and happened to glance on your page stating you like sali boti which is a Parsi Dish
    Here’s your sali boti recipie:


    Serves 6
    # 1 kg mutton, cubed
    # 5 onions ground to a paste
    # 1 tbsp. ginger-garlic paste
    # 1 cup tomato puree
    # ½ cup curd
    # 1 ½ tsps. chilli powder
    # 1 tsp. Turmeric powder
    # 1 tsp. garam masala powder
    # 2 tsps. Sugar
    # 200 gms potato straws (sali)
    # Oil as needed
    # Salt to taste

    Marinate meat in all ingredients except oil and sali. Leave for an hour. Heat one cup oil in a pressure cooker and add meat. Stir fry till brown. Add 2 cups water and pressure cook till done. Turn out and serve covered with potato straws.

    Hope it works for you.
    If you need any more, you have my email.

  10. Lillian Hauck says:

    I love the way you describe the recipies you print. I just
    send your French onion soup dumplings recipe to my daughter.
    The lamb tagine with apricots, dates, and yams, sounds
    scrumptious and I can’t wait to make it for my husband and
    myself. Noted is that the last remarks were in 2006….
    Any more recent recipes?

    Best regards

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