Harissa Spiced Lamb Stew

We are in the middle of July when the weather is supposed to be in the thirties and Sunday afternoon alfresco dinning or a picnic in the beach should be the order of the day. But instead we have temperature barely touching 20 degrees Celsius. Today was a cloudy day that was threatening to rain for most of it and the rain finally came around 4pm. The town was hosting a festival over the weekend. I took my daughter there on Saturday but the weather did not allow us to stay up there for long. The last two weeks have been like this and the body is craving for some comforting food. We knew that we had to ditch the salad and we did not fancy a full on roast. So we decided to make this stew instead. I have made it a few times before and it works a treat. Lamb is my favourite meat and it is best cooked in a curry or stew. This is a very tasty alternative for a Sunday roast and I would say that its a lot easier too. Try and get Rose Harrissa paste as its bit milder and more flavourful (with the addition of rose petals). If you want this dish extra hot then add a couple of teaspoons of chilli powder. I have added dates as I had some in the fridge. This is optional but adds a different layer of flavour. You can use chopped dried apricots or even a few sultanas instead if you do not have dates. I have also added a tablespoon of anchovy paste (optional) that brings out the flavour of the meat. You can also used chopped preserved lemons to this dish. I have also used a tin of Cannellini beans for the dish in the picture as I ran out of Chickpeas but it works well too.

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Ingredients (Serving 4)
Boneless Lamb pieces = 600 gms (medium pieces)
Onions = 2 medium sliced
Garlic Cloves = 4 cloves chopped
Harrissa Paste = 2 to 3 generous teaspoon
Cumin  Powder = 1 tablespoon
Coriander Powder = 1 tablespoon
Tomato Purée = 3 tablespoon
Anchovy Paste (optional) = 1 tablespoon
White Wine = 200 ml
Bay leaf = 2
Cinnamon = 1.5 inch stick
Chickpeas = 1 tin (rinsed)
Dates = about 8 pitted (optional)
Salt = to taste

Method
In a bowl mix the lamb with the cumin and coriander powder. Heat oil in a casserole dish and brown the meat in two batches and keep aside. Now add a bit more oil in the same pan and fry the onions till translucent. Now add the Garlic. Fry for a minute or two and add the bay leaf and cinnamon. Now add the meat, the tomato purée, Harrissa paste and Anchovy paste (if using). Add the extra chilli powder if using. Mix well and add the white wine. Add salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat cover and cook in a 150 degree Centigrade oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes (the meat should be well cooked by this time). Take it out after that time and add the chickpeas and dates or apricots and cover and cook for a further 20 to 30 minutes. Alternatively you can slow cook this dish on a very low flame for about the same time as the oven. Check Seasoning and Serve hot with Couscous or Sweet Potato Mash or some Flatbreads.

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