Mutton and Squash Tagine.

Serves 3-4.


Ingredients:
500g diced mutton
2 peeled, deseeded butternut squashes
2 Spanish onions
1/2 bulb garlic
1/2 pint water with 2 tbsps tomato puree
2 tbsps honey
1½ tbsps cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
Zest of 1/2 an orange
100g dried apricots (optional)
Fresh coriander (to serve)

Blend all your spices except the cinnamon, star anise and half of the zest. Place the mutton in a bowl and sprinkle on the spice mix. Rub it all over, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours (12 hours minimum).

When ready to cook, pre-heat your oven to gas mark 3, thinly slice the onions into half moons, and peel and crush the garlic. Using a wide frying pan, fry the onions on a medium heat with a tablespoon of oil for 6-7 minutes, occasionally stirring to soften but not colour. Add the garlic and fry on a low heat for another 2-3 minutes, still stirring. Meanwhile, chop your squash into inch square chunks and set to one side.

After the onion has softened, remove from the heat and place in the bottom of the tagine. On top of that, place your chunks of squash. Remove the mutton from the fridge and fry in the frying pan in batches until browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on top of your squash. Drizzle over the honey and pour the puree water into the bottom of the tagine. Add the cinnamon stick broken in two, the star anise and the other half of the orange zest. Cover with the tagine lid and place in the bottom of the oven, which should now be pre-heated to gas mark 3.

Leave until the mutton and squash are meltingly tender. I have had great results after 3 hours but have also left for 8 hours on a lower heat. Like a good curry, this dish only gets better with time. If you're using apricots, rehydrate them in simmering water and add them half an hour before serving. If liquid is a little low, add the apricot water as well.

When cooked to your satisfaction, take out of the oven and add seasoning to taste, then a handful of freshly chopped coriander. If you want it a little spicier, add some chopped fresh chilli at the beginning. Serve with flatbread and rice or a couscous salad.