Ras El Hanout Lamb Tagine with Pumpkin and Apricots

   Ras El Hanout Tagine (0010) by Meeta K. Wolff

The blustery days of Autumn, blowing leaves in shades of burnt orange and gold make me happy. The mornings are crisp and clean. Walking barefooted out into our back yard early morning, the coffee cup in my hand steaming white puffs in the cool air and the moist dew against my feet give me that needed moment of serenity before I jump into my day.

In the horizon, beyond the houses and over the hills, the sun begins it’s rise for the day. It still feels slightly unusual at the late start it gets at this time of the year, but it rewards me with a spectacular blazing sky, colored in fire red and deep purple. It almost makes me forget the darker, gloomy Winter days looming ahead.

I feel inspired for the rest of the day and the colors of the season prompt me to create soothing and satisfying dishes infused with exotic spices and aromas.

Pumpkin 092010 (0049) by Meeta K. Wolff

When my friend gave me this homegrown pumpkin from her garden, it sat on my kitchen counter top for a few days. Each morning I looked at it as I poured my coffee and prepared breakfast for Soeren and me. Each day I had new plans for it.

A cake. Muffins. Salad. Roast it. Steam it. But then on one cool morning as I scraped the car free from the first frost of the season, my body yelled “a stew!”

At the time I was writing an article about exotic spices from around the world. One of these magnificent spices was Ras El Hanout.  A wonderful box filled with this delicate was sitting in my cabinet, something I had picked up from my last trip to Dubai earlier this year. The recipe for the tagine began taking form as I drove Soeren to school that morning. By the end of the day I had more or less worked through the recipe and headed towards the market with my ingredient list.

Pumpkin 092010 (0054) by Meeta K. Wolff

Ras El Hanout

Literally, Ras El Hanout means "top of the shop" and is a Moroccan spice blend, which can contain more than 30 spices. It is a matter of honor for the Moroccan spice merchant to provide the most sought after blend of spices and there are stories of merchants creating custom blends of ras el hanout for special clients with ingredients that include hashish. The traditional blend however consists of the more conventional aromatic ingredients like coriander seeds, allspice, nutmeg, lavender and rose buds to name a few. Ras el hanout has a spicy kick, a floral fragrance and subtle nuances within an overall robust flavor. Extremely versatile, it can be used for chicken, lamb and vegetables, imparting its gorgeous golden color and enticing flavor to the dishes. Transcend an ordinary couscous with a sprinkling of ras el hanout or enhance a lamb roast with a ras el hanout spice rub - the difference will not go unnoticed.

Ras El Hanout added the perfect highlight for this tagine, complementing the flavors of the lamb, pumpkin and the sweetness of the apricots. You should be able to find ras el hanout in well sorted stores and spice shops. You can also have a go at making this aromatic spice mix yourself. The lovely Haalo from Cook Almost Anything Once has a great recipe for a homemade ras el hanout spice blend.

I do not have a typical tagine to cook the dish in instead I simply used a large casserole and it still offered all the lovely aromatic flavors.

Ras El Hanout Lamb Tagine with Pumpkin and Apricots

Printable version of recipe here


1 kg boneless lamb shoulder, cut into bite size chunks
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 teaspoon Ras El Hanout
2 cinnamon sticks
400 ml passata
350 g pumpkin, cut into chunks
175 g dried apricots
3 tablespoons olive oil
Handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper


  1. In a large, deep casserole heat the oil. Add the onions, then gently sauté until softened and transparent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the finely chopped ginger then add the meat in portions and fry on all sides until lightly colored. Return all the meat to the pan, stir in the ras el hanout and cinnamon sticks, then cook for 1 minute.

  2. Add the passata and about 300ml water and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally . Season with salt and pepper, then cover and simmer for approx 1.5 hours, until the lamb is tender and literally melts in your mouth.

  3. Add the pumpkin cubes, stir well, cover again, then cook for another 20 minutes or until the pumpkin cubes are just tender. Stir in the apricots and heat through for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

  4. Serve immediately sprinkled with coriander leaves and bulgur.

The Food Guide :

- The healing properties of ginger

- Selecting and storing pumpkins

- Interesting facts about apricots



Ras El Hanout Tagine (0005) by Meeta K. Wolff 

A delicate sprinkling of an exotic spice over a soothing dish will often take me away to a fantasy place in the deeper realms of my imagination. Here I was walking the spice bazaars of Casablanca and I swear I could literally smell the spicy scents filling the air and hear the shouts of the men in their shops tempting us to buy their colorful spices. As I served the tagine I am sure I was able to take my dinner guests on this trip with me too. 

Plate to Page Workshop

The Plate to Page workshop will take place in Weimar, Germany from 20 – 23 May 2011.

From Plate to Page is an intensive hands-on food photography and writing workshop aimed primarily at food bloggers, writers and photographers like you . It provides an exciting opportunity for those of you looking to enhance and hone your photography and writing skills, both for your blog and for professional work.

We plan to provide you with a fresh new concept and trust me you will be working hard throughout the weekend. But we’ve also set aside some time for play and fun too. Check out our P2P Programme!


You might like these stews and soup from WFLH:

Spiced Lamb and Pumpkin Goulash Minestrone with Pesto Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2010 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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  1. guess what we'll be having for dinner one night this week ?! :) i love cooking lamb tagine - with different dried fruits especially prunes, and sometimes dried figs too. and i just love cooking pumpkin, period ! i used to have a jar of ras el hanout that we brought back from morocco, and as time went on, we kept forgetting more and more of the spices we were told were in it ! haha ! fantastic recipe, can't wait to try...

  2. That's so funny - I had a home-grown pumpkin that a lovely friend had brought me, also sitting in my kitchen counter for the last week,wondering what I shoul dmake with it and suddenly over the weekend my body shouted SOUP! :)

    Love this dish - I love the fruity & spice flavour of tagines. Ras el Hanout has such a fantastic flavour - got to get me some! I feel warmer just looking at your gorgeous pics.

  3. I so need something this way today. Tired, lazy and I need some good food and pampering. Wish I could take off a plate from here.

  4. I do have a pumpkin on my kitchen counter right now, but have none of the lovely spice blend you describe. It sounds delicious!

  5. Lovely combination of lamb, pumpkin & apricots. I'm sure that it tastes really good. Thanks for sharing :)

  6. A delightful tagine! I love anything that contains Ras-El-Hanout and pumpkin, and which tastes North-African.

    Glorious shots too!



  7. Meeta! I can just smell this dish now!! amazing flavors! and so close to Parsi cooking! lovely...

  8. What a wonderful pairing of ingredients and very clever of you to add the pumpkin to the tagine Meeta. I bet the aromas were tantalising!

  9. I just started cooking with ras el hanout last year, and I'm absolutely addicted. Your pumpkin stew is going on my must-try list!

  10. This is stunning and sounds amazingly delicious! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  11. Meeta,
    I've been a lurker for YEARS! Lots of great recipes, pictures, and inspiration :) And this one is no exception. Many people don't realize how prominently pumpkin can figure into North African cuisine and how delicious it is - I'm going to serve this one with cous cous real soon :)

  12. This looks amazing. I love the combo of sweet and svory. And I have been on a major pumpkin kick lately - so this is wonderful!

  13. The recipe looks great, and the ingredients will guarantee it has a great flavor as well. Thanks, I cannot wait to make this.

  14. now, I am not too fond of lamb, but this makes me want to jump right in! i still have some ras el hanout from marrekesh at home (i hope i brought it ;-))

  15. My 2 minutes allocated to read your post led to 15 via the Dubai links. It's always interesting to see another perspective on the place that you live. I feel embarrassed but I have no ras al hanout in my cupboard. Must recitfy!!

  16. Right, time for me to source some ras el hanout then! This looks great, and just the thing for this time of year. I love the blend of spicy and sweet that Moroccan food offers. We've got both pumpkins and squash sitting in our shed, begging to be used - I'll let you know when I've given your recipe a try.

  17. I can smell that heavenly looking tagine from where I'm sitting in Oxford. How utterly delicious! x

  18. Thank you all for all your wonderful comment and excited that you are liking the flavors in this tagine!

    Kerrin - Me too dried fruit and hearty meat always does the trick for me! Can't wait to hear what you thought of this!

    Jeanne - BORG! right down to the core! oh you need to get some ras el hanout it's awesome and really adds an incredible flavor to the dishes!

    Soma - looks like you came to the right place!

    Scrambled Hen Fruit - oh but you can make your own spice mix too or just add a sprinkling of other spices - it won't be the same but i think it will work well just the same.

    Megha - glad you like it!

    Rosa - i see we need to cook together as we share the same passions.

    Asha - glad you liked it.

    Peter - i love pumpkin especially in savory so this was a real winner.

    Lydia - cannot wait to hear what you think. yes ras el hanout is a very special spice and brightens up many dishes.

    Peachkins/Celeste - Thanks!

    Heba - well thanks for outing yourself here FINALLY! Glad it was the tagine that did it ;o)

    Katie - Pumpkin rocks!

    Daphne - thanks so much - let me know what you think.

    Johanna - you can make this with chicken or even beef of you prefer. works well with both.

    Sall - you give my only 2 minutes? booh! ;o) well glad that Dubai travelogue got you to stay here longer!

    Michele - maybe you might be able to find at at waitrose. but you really need to get your hands on it.

    Charlie - hahaha! good to hear it#s made it that far!

  19. That's absolutely gorgeous Meeta... lovely warm flavours! Thank God for frost!! Been missing you... HUGS

  20. Great way to use pumpkin. That's unusual for me to mix pumpkin and lamb but this looks fantastic. The workshop sounds interesting. Too bad I am in Canada. Beautiful pictures.

  21. Hi Meeta! Love lamb, and of course, love pumpkins and apricots... and OF COURSE TAJINE is one of my favorite dishes... This recipe have it all... I hope to cook it soon. ;) Thanks for the recipe.

  22. Sigh, this is such a cozy, warming dish, Meeta. :-) Dear friends just invited me over for "hearty stew" next week and I'm so looking forward to it. :-) I love using exotic and new spices, and although I've eaten ras-el-hanout, I've never cooked with it. I will have to remedy that soon. :-)

  23. What an amazing color! It looks fantastic! I NEED to try that. Just need to find out what passata is... :)

  24. I personally am a huge-o fan of lamb. It's the one meat that is always free range and organic! Good thing they haven't figured out how to feed it grains in a lot.

  25. Hi Meeta! How wonderful that you have friends that give you such beautiful produce! I love that you made a tagine with it and you used a casserole dish - how very practical!

  26. I love hearty dishes like this, Meeta - and those colors! So vivid and beautiful!

  27. Gorgeous, Delicious, Divine Lamb Tagine! Love the addition of Pumpkins and Apricots! I was in Fes, Morocco this past June and brought back a stash of Ras-el-Hanout, which by the way I still have not used in any recipe! I must soon! :)

  28. A wonderful tagine! Looks irresistible!

  29. Mmmm, I can just imagine the smell of this dish, it looks delightful. I too cook tagine in a casserole - now all I have to do is to find a friend who grows pumpkins. :)

  30. Meeta what a wonderful colourful flavourful dish. I love the use of Pumpkin in this. Very nice!

  31. That looks so beautiful Meeta and very timely too as I have just bought a packet of ras el hanout and was wondering what to use it for!

  32. What a fantastic combination! I'm out of ras el hanout at the moment but I must buy some more.

  33. thanks for the share. It's very helpful

  34. I love top of the shop. Thanks for the recipe


Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

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