And how could any cook not be inspired when you look at all the array of spices in the market in Marseilles and the different varieties. And it pays off just listening to the people who sell them to you, because they’ve always got a million recipes to share. This is a lovely sweet and spicy North African influenced dish and the ingredient that gives it really that flavour is called Rás a la Nout, a Moroccan spice mix used in tagines, but today’s dish is with lamb shanks, browned all over in olive oil.
Start by braising the lamb shanks. This should be a brisk enough process. We’re talking browning not braising. Three to four minutes should be enough to do the job. Put them aside to rest.
Give the pot a quick wipe to remove any excess oil and then put the heat back on under the pot with a little fresh olive oil and then in go onions, carrots, some ginger. You notice there’s no chilli in this, so it’s spicy without being hot. Then, the best bit is the spice mixture, quite a lot, about two or three tablespoons, a fantastic smell. It’s very subtle though, not like a hot curry. Next a tin of tomatoes, stir that, and put the lamb shanks back in. And then fill the casserole up with water to about three quarters to the top of the meat. Bring that back to the boil, put the lid on and put in a very slow oven, about a hundred and fifty, hundred and sixty degrees for about two hours, but if that’s two and a half hours it doesn’t really matter.
About twenty minutes before you serve the dish, you’re going to put some chickpeas in. It’s looking good! There's not an awful lot of room left now. The dish is finished off with some dried apricots, some prunes, some toasted almonds and for extra sweetness, a little honey.
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