Lazy Man's Guide to Lamb & Couscous Tagine


The tagine is a historically North african dish that is named after the type of earthenware pot in which it is cooked. I became familiar (and a bit obsessed) with tagine after my one month stay in Morocco. My first taste was in the Sahara Desert where a family had cooked us chicken and root vegetable tagine. The presentation was spectacular; a huge tagine pot formed entirely of a natural clay and covered with a dome-shaped lid was lifted to steaming chicken and root vegetables laying vertical atop the mound of couscous.

While traditionally all of the ingredients are cooked inside the tagine over hot charcoal, you can also cook the tagine in a conventional oven or stove top. For the purpose of ease and quickness, this "lazy man" recipe will direct you to cook the couscous stovetop in a pan while thawing frozen lamb koftas, then combining everything inside the tagine to cook in a conventional oven. I made videos of the process but then decided I sipped too much wine and would skip the embarrassment. I posted photos instead. Enjoy!


Ingredients for CousCous (see photo above)

Trader Joe's Israeli Couscous
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
1/2 large cinnamon stick
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup parsley, minced
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup raisins
Back pepper, to taste


Ingredients for Lamb Koftas (SEE PHOTO ABOVE)

Trader Joe's Lamb Koftas (with masala sauce)
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
Cherry tomatoes, chopped
Tumeric spice, to taste
Curry spice, to taste
Cumin spice, to taste

***Note: obviously, the Trader Joe's Lamb Koftas are already fully cooked and only needing to be cooked before serving, however, I wanted to my own personal touch so I added in the garlic, tomatoes, and spices as an experiment. Result? Tasted amazing (if you love garlic and spices as I do!)

Instructions for CousCous (SEE PHOTO ABOVE)

Before starting to cook the couscous, pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F and allow lamb koftas to thaw.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. 
Add pine nuts and stir until golden brown. Transfer to small bowl.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the same pan over medium heat.
Add purple onion and salute until golden. 
Add couscous, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and stir until couscous browns slightly.
Add chicken broth and salt and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender.
Remove from heat and stir in parsley, pine nuts, raisins, and lemon zest. 
Season with black pepper to taste.

Instructions for Lamb Koftas & Masala Sauce (SEE PHOTO ABOVE)

You should have already pre-heated oven to 325 degrees F while allowing lamb koftas to thaw (if you don't have time for koftas to thaw, see *** below).
Add olive oil to cover bottom of tagine.
Mix garlic, tomatoes, spices, lamb koftas, and masala sauce in tagine.
Note: I added 1/2 of the pouch of masala sauce due to the olive oil and spices I already added (add as much or as little as you wish).

***If you don’t have time to let koftas thaw, you can cook in microwave or stove top (see below):
Microwave: Puncture pouch and place on a microwave safe dish. Heat on high for 2 minutes or until heated through.
Stove top: Place a single layer of meatballs into a small fry pan along with 1/3 cup water, cover with lid and stay for about 8 minutes or until heated through.
Note: you will be cooking further in oven so you don’t want to cook the maximum time in microwave or stovetop.***

The Final Product (SEE PHOTO ABOVE)

Combine cous-cous with the lamb koftas inside the tagine.
Cover tagine with lid and place in oven for 10-15 minutes (or until lamb koftas are cooked all the way).
For presentation purposes, and to pretend like you cooked the lamb from scratch as I did, destroy any evidence of the frozen lamb koftas by discarding the trader joe's box, then bring out the whole tagine, remove dome lid to reveal your amazingly delicious meal and serve!


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