Beef Tagine with Sweet Potato and Prunes (Tagine Lahma bil Batata)

I must be acclimated to the weather in the Middle East. It is 75 degrees, and I am freezing.  I literally have goosebumps all the time, and my thin sweaters that I brought with me from the States just aren’t cuttin it.  I remember when we first moved here in February, I  laughed at all the locals wearing winter coats and scarfs in the 80 degree weather.  Well, I am not laughing any more…After surviving over 115 degree heat with 100% humidity for months on end, I guess 75 degrees is cold!

So, with that said, there is nothing like a tagine on a cold winter day.  As you may know, my tagine is one of my favorite kitchen items. I have previously posted about using it to make my chicken with preserved lemons and olives.  Today, I made another popular Moroccan tagine, using beef with sweet potatoes and prunes. Usually this dish is made with lamb, but I have issues with the game-like taste of lamb, so I usually opt for beef.

My secret to making a good meat tagine is this: one meat, one vegetable, and one dried fruit (you can also add nuts too). You can get really creative (i have even done chicken with potato and apricots). The idea is to use a low-cost meat and combine it with sweet and savory flavors. Root vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes, hold up really well and contrast nicely with meat.   The tagine will do all the magic in tenderizing your meat, since you cook it low and slow, and the cone does wonders for circulating the moisture back into the dish.

This dish also doesn’t take very long to prep for, but you do need to stick around the house while it simmers for about an hour on the stove.  Just pop in a movie, and relax, while your tagine does all the work and your house is filled with the sweet smell of stewing prunes and sweet potatoes. YUM!

Beef Tagine with Sweet Potato and Prunes (Tagine Lahma bil Batata)

Prep Time: 20  minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

  • 1 lb sirloin cubes
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 10-12 dry prunes
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • Olive oil

Marinade/Spice Mix

  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove mashed)
  • 1/4 tsp ginger (or freshly grated ginger)

(1) Wash and rinse the meat.  Pat dry. Add the spice  mixture. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients. You can also marinate the meat over night.

(2) Slice the onion, dice the sweet potato, and chop the prunes.

(3) In a tagine (or large saucepan with lid), heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Saute the onion slices until soft.

(4) Add the meat and saute gently.

(5) Once the meat has a slight brown color, add the prunes and sweet potatoes.

(6) Add 2 cups of chicken broth (the meat should be mostly covered).  Bring to a rapid simmer, then reduce the heat to low, and cover.

(7) Leave the tagine alone for about 45 minutes.  Periodically check and stir it around so the food does not stick to the bottom.  You can tell the tagine is done when the sauce has thickened, and begins to caramelize a bit on the bottom.  Your house will also smell divine right about now.

(8) Serve with rice or couscous.  Enjoy!


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