Dates, sweet vegetables and savoury spices flavour tagine style cooking
#100daysofcooking, Recipes

Day 69: Much ado about mutton

Lamb and Date Tagine

There are few guarantees when it comes to the weather in Alberta. Requiring wooly outerwear in March is one of them.

Once again this year, the month roared in with snowstorms, wind and bitter cold. But like they say, “In like a lion, out like a lamb.”  And what better way to greet the first day of spring than by, um, eating the lamb.

Too soon?

To be fair, I wasn’t contemplating mutton at all when the day started. Nope, today’s plan  was to be to use up those pesky remaining dates. (The first handful, you may remember, were ingloriously misidentified as figs back on Day Three.)

We were leaning towards a “tagine” style main course — combining meat, spices and sweet fruit and vegetables — based on a recipe from Australia’s and another from the New York Times website.

It was sheer coincidence that the meat in question ended up being the symbol of spring. As you can imagine, we felt very sheepish.

Then we got over that, and enjoyed our meal. You know what, it wasn’t half baaa-aad.

Happy spring 🙂

Kitchen Castoff Used

Dates, purchased in December for a Christmas pudding

Dates, sweet potatoes and savoury spices flavour this lamb tagine.
Dates, sweet potatoes and savoury spices flavour this lamb tagine.


This is how we did it


  • 1 to 2 lbs of lamb (recipe called for shanks, we used small lamb chops, cooking two per person
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ tsp grated or minced gingerroot
  • 1½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, slice (about 1 cup)
  • pinch of saffron
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 cinnamon stick (about two inches long)
  • 1 tsp dried ginger
  • ½ cup chopped dates plus additional whole dates
  • 1½ to 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup sweet potatoes, chopped
  • raisins, pomegranate seeds and cilantro for garnish (optional)


In a small bowl, combine garlic, fresh ginger, paprika and cumin into a paste. Season meat generously with salt and pepper, then smear the paste on top. Allow the meat to season at  room temperature for about an hour, or covered in the refrigerator for longer.

In a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium high heat, then add the onion, saffron, cayenne and a sprinkle of salt. Cook for about five minutes, until softened, then add the tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add the meat to the pot and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Add the cinnamon stick, dried ginger, chopped dates and sweet potato, then add the stock so that it just covers everything. Bring to a simmer, then cover and put in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 degrees. Check the sauce, and add more liquid (stock or water) if it is below the level of the meat. Let cook for about another hour.

Before you eat, add the whole dates to the pot and bring to a simmer.

Curious about my “Kitchen Castoffs” concept? Here’s the explainer describing my 100-day project.

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