Lamb Stew with Almonds and Apricots


3 pounds lamb shoulder or neck, trimmed of fat and cut into 2 1/2 inch cubes

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 cinnamon sticks

3 cups chicken stock or water

1 1/2 cups dried apricots, roughly chopped, or raisins

1 1/2 cups almonds, whole and blanched

1/3 cup honey

1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

1 cup carrots, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped


1 Marinate lamb: In a bowl combine the ginger, pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves and water and mix well. Add the meat and rub in the paste, coating evenly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

2 Cook onions with garlic and cinnamon: In a Dutch oven or other heavy, lidded pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and cinnamon sticks and cook until the onions are translucent and the mixture is fragrant.

3 Add meat, marinade, stock: Add the marinated meat (including the marinade) to the pot and then the chicken stock. Bring the stock to a boil, and skim off any scum that appears.

4 Simmer until tender: Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring from time to time. Add water if the pot becomes too dry. Stew until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours, more if needed.

5 Add apricots, almonds, honey, carrots: Add the apricots, almonds, honey, and carrots and simmer, uncovered, stirring often to prevent scorching, until the meat is very soft and almost falling apart, about 30 minutes longer.

The sauce should reduce to a syrupy glaze. At this point taste and add lemon juice to desired level. The lemon juice brings some balance to the sweetness from the honey and apricots.


Note: this recipe can be prepared in advance up to this point. Allow to cool, refrigerate and serve within a couple of days.

6 Serve: Stir in the chopped parsley and transfer to a warmed serving dish. Serve immediately with couscous or rice.