Chickpea and Lamb Tagine with Saffron Pilaf

North Africa, there are fewer places on the planet with more history. It is home to Rome’s greatest rival, The Empire of Carthage. The Empire’s greatest hero Hannibal, the general not the cannibal, marched his army of Phoenician Regular Troops, and European Mercenaries and elephants across the Alps to attack the Latin capital. Sure, it didn’t work well, the Romans eventually defeated them, razed Carthage and salted the earth so that nothing would ever grow again, but I say it just adds more seasoning to their dishes.

Also, we can’t forget the Ottoman sailor Khizr who later became a privateer. He became so successful and eventually an Ottoman admiral and a sultan of his own! Given the new name Barbarossa or “Red Beard” by his European enemies, he was feared along the Barbary Coast and the Mediterranean by the Knights Hospitaller, French, Spanish, Italian and English fleets and settlements. 

A name truly fit for this Barbarian’s blog.

So Barbarians and Berbers, sizzle some spices in your conical shaped crock pots and slow cook a stew fit for a corsair with The Culinary Barbarian’s, Chickpea and Lamb Tagine with Saffron Pilaf.

lamb tagine


Lamb Tagine:

300g Diced lamb

3tbsp olive oil

400g can chickpeas, drained and washed

2 medium onions, quartered and sliced

2cups diced pumpkin

1 large potato, diced

2 carrots, roughly chopped

1cup eggplant roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

3cm ginger, minced

2tbsp ras el hanout (Moroccan spice mix)

1cup dry white wine

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice of 2 mandarins

1cup chicken stock

Mandarin peel, sliced, white pith removed

Lemon zest

Sicilian olives 

6-8 dried dates, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Currant Pilaf: 

2cups basmati rice

3cups boiling water

80g butter or ghee

1 medium onion, sliced

1cup frozen peas and corn

1tsp chili powder

1tsp sweet paprika

1tsp white pepper

6-8 saffron threads

1tbsp table salt

¼ cup dried currants

Toasted flaked almonds



Greek Yoghurt

Sliced red capsicum 


Lamb Tagine:

  1. In a tagine pan or heavy based casserole dish heat 3tbsp of olive oil and sauté the onions, garlic and ginger until the onions translucent. Add the ras el hanout and stir through the onions, adding a little extra water to the mixture if it becomes too dry. Fry the spices until fragrant. Toss in the meat and brown on all sides, coating the meat in the spice mixture. 
  2. When brown, remove the meat and reserve on a plate. Deglaze the pan with white wine and the lemon and mandarin juice. Add the vegetables and the chickpeas and bring to the boil. Return the meat to the pan, add stock and ½ of the citrus zest/ peel, place the lid on the pan and turn the stove to its lowest setting. Simmer on lowest setting for 45 minutes to an hour or the meat begins to break apart.
  3. Remove the lid and add the olives. Reduce the liquid by half.
  4. Remove from heat.


  1. Wash the basmati rice to remove the excess starch until the water runs clear. I like to do this 3 times as it makes the rice light and fluffy. Drain off excess water through a wire strainer and add the salt, paprika, pepper and chili. Stir the spices through the washed uncooked rice and let sit for 10 min.
  2. Add the saffron threads to 1 cup of boiling water and let sit.
  3. In a large frypan or paella pan, melt the butter and fry off the onions until translucent, add the peas and corn and the rice mixture. Coat all of the rice in butter and lightly toast. Add 2 cups of boiling water and the 1 cup of saffron water to the pan, sprinkle the currants over the rice. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
  4. Remove from heat and let sit for 5-8 min. 

To Serve:

  1. Fluff the rice with a fork, sprinkle with toasted almonds.
  2. Drizzle the tagine with yoghurt.
  3. Garnish both with chipped coriander and citrus zest and sliced capsicum.