In 2005 Steve and I competed in the London to Dakar rally - a 19 day event that was memorable for a number of reasons including several near death experiences.
The route took us through France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal and throughout the journey the quality of the food varied wildly. The best meal we had was after our first brush with death on our second day of rallying in Morocco. I was driving and Steve was encouraging me to take corners quickly such that the back end of the car spun out slightly; great fun and we were doing really well until the surface of the road changed from tarmac to gravel. The car skidded towards the edge of the mountain but I managed to spin it back round and crash into the rockface on the other side of the road. This was not great for the car but at least we were alive. If we had gone over the edge we would have fallen several hundred feet.
As we limped to the hotel at the end of the day we were both in need of comfort and tasty food. A chap at the hotel recommended a little restaurant tucked away down a side street and it was here that I tasted lamb with prunes for the first time. This is my take on the recipe and whenever I eat it it evokes memories of that three week adventure.
- 2 tablespoons light tasting vegetable oil
- 1 large onion - chopped
- 3 cloves garlic - crushed
- 5 grams root ginger - peeled and grated
- 500 grams lamb (preferably neck fillet) - cut into cubes
- 3 teaspoons coriander - cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 750 millilitres vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 150 grams prunes - pitted and halved
- 1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
- 2 preserved lemons - cut into strips (remove all pips)
- 2 tablespoons harissa paste
- small handful coriander - chopped
- small handful mint - chopped
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan.
- Add the onion, garlic and ginger and leave to cook until the onions soften slightly (in the region of five minutes)
- Add the cubes of lamb and stir well. Put the lid on the pan and let the flavours infuse for 15 minutes on a low heat. Stir occasionally.
- Add the coriander-cumin powder, salt, cinnamon sticks, paprika and black pepper and stir.
- Now add the vegetable stock and tomato puree and stir again.
- Increase the temperature and heat the dish until the liquid is boiling gently.
- Put the lid on the pan and reduce the temperature to a low heat. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Now taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary bearing in mind that the preserved lemons that you'll be adding at the end are very salty.
- Put the lid back on the pan and cook for another 30 minutes.
- Add the prunes and replace the lid on the pan. Continue cooking until the lamb is tender enough to cut with a spoon.
- Switch off the heat and add the orange blossom water, preserved lemons and harissa. Stir well.
- Garnish with the chopped coriander and mint.
- Serve with couscous.