As snow started to fall in London I had the desire for something warm, something that would be thick, rich and satisfying to stave off the chill. So I put on my boots, pulled my hat down and slipped and slid my way to the shops to buy the ingredients to make hearty Moroccan beef stew. The trip out into the snow and the cold was well worth it as the stew warmed me to my core.
A heavy, rich stew like this needs something to balance it. While bread could have worked, I felt it was more appropriate to serve it with lemon couscous. Couscous is perfect as it soaks up all the delicious juices, making sure it’s not lost and helps cuts through the richness of the meat. This dish remind me of traveling (when that was a thing) and getting to enjoy new authentic dishes.
This stew is even better the day after it’s been made. I feel the flavours are more intense, the meat is softer and will fall apart beautifully. You don’t have to eat it on a snowy day but I feel that it really improves the taste when you eat it and watch the blizzard blowing outside!
Note: looks a long list of ingredients but it’s not too complicated to prepare. Its mostly just spices. Once in the oven you can get on with something else until just before the meal so not really too time consuming; it’s all done in the oven!
Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes
Yields: 4 portions
30ml olive oil
600g beef (lean)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 onion (diced)
2 garlic clove (minced)
2 red peppers
1 tsp harissa
5 strands of saffron
6 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp rose water
120g dried apricots
400g chickpeas (tinned)
500ml hot water
Hand full of fresh coriander, chopped
Pomegranate seeds (garnish)
175g couscous, wholegrain
½ tsp za’atar
1 lemon zest
- Turn on the oven to 160C (fan).
- In a large pot, which can go in the oven, heat half of the oil and butter on a high heat.
- Chop the beef into 2cm chunks and toss in the flour, salt and black pepper until all sides are covered.
- Sear the beef chunks in the pot in batches, each piece about 40 seconds until all sides are brown. Once half of the beef is used, add the rest of the oil and butter and continue searing the beef. Place the seared meat on a plate until needed. Note: If there is excess flour, add to the last batch.
- In the same pot add the chopped onions and garlic. Cook until soft and transparent.
- Chop red peppers into 2cm cubes, add to the pot and cook for a minute.
- Place the saffron into a small bowl along with 30ml of hot water. Allow to soak for a few minutes.
- To the pot, add harissa, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, turmeric, paprika, cumin, rose water and saffron infused water and saffron strands.
- Drain the chickpeas and rinse in cold water. Add to the pot and stir.
- Take half of the dried apricots and dice, while the other half cut in halves. Add to the pot.
- Add 400ml of hot water stir and place into the hot oven with a lid.
- Cook for 1 hour. Stir and remove the lid, and place back in the oven for 30 minutes while stirring every 10 minutes, to help reduce the liquid.
- Remove from heat, taste and season to personal taste.
- Chop pistachio nuts and fresh coriander. Stir half into the dish and keep half for garnishing.
- Place the couscous into a deep bowl along with the za’atar, lemon zest, butter, a good grind of salt and pepper mixed together.
- Add 200ml of hot water to the couscous and leave for 5 minutes covered. Fluff using a spoon and add 50ml of additional hot water.
- Serve the stew with the couscous, chopped coriander, pistachio nuts and pomegranate seeds. Enjoy the warm stew!