Lamb and Artichoke Tagine

I have no problem with stuffing mushrooms. My life, though, is too short to spend time dismembering raw artichokes.

They grow in profusion in our garden, looming over the rest of the veg like triffids. I love them simply boiled and served with melted butter, pulling off each leaf and nibbling off the soft flesh before scraping out the hairy choke and digging into the base. Delicious. I should have stopped while I was ahead but I got seduced by my friend Magdi’s description of his lamb and artichoke tagine.

If you grow your own artichokes and you’re unsure about the process of prepping them, there are lots of how-to videos online. I have to say I detest the process. You need a very sharp knife, brute force and a great deal more patience than I have.

Reader, I cheated. The French food company Picard sells artichoke bottoms ready prepped and frozen, available via Ocado. You can also get them brined (I haven’t tried these) in which case they’ll need a very good rinse, or you could substitute artichoke hearts from a jar. These will only need draining, gently blotting any oil, and heating through in the tagine at the last minute.

Lamb and Artichoke Tagine


1 kg boned lamb shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and sinew, cut into 4cm dice

2 tbsp olive oil

2 medium onions, peeled, halved and cut lengthways into thick slivers

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or finely chopped

2 tspn ginger

1 tspn turmeric

1 tspn ground cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

350 ml water

3 pickled lemons

3 tbsp chopped coriander (plus more to garnish)

2 tbsp chopped parsley

Pinch of saffron, soaked in a little hot water

500g artichoke bottoms

100g green olives, pitted

Zest and juice of 1 fresh lemon


Heat the olive oil in a wide, heavy-based pan and brown the lamb all over. You’ll need to do this in batches. Remove and set aside.

Halve the pickled lemons and pick out the pips. Finely chop one lemon and the pulp of the other two. Cut the peel of these two into fine slivers and keep separate.

Add the onions to the pan, sprinkle with a little salt and cook until soft and golden. Now add the spices (except the saffron) and garlic and cook for a few minutes more. Put the meat back into the pan, along with any juices.

Image of lamb and onions

Stir in the chopped pickled lemon (not the slivers), two tablespoons of the chopped coriander and all of the parsley. Season with ground black pepper. You can add more salt later if necessary but please bear in mind the lemons and olives are both salty.

Pour in the water, stir well, put on a lid and turn the heat to very low. Simmer for an hour or until the meat is tender.

Add the artichoke hearts and olives, making sure the artichokes are submerged (you can cook them from frozen). Stir in the saffron and its water and bring back up to aĀ  bubbling simmer.

Cook uncovered for a further 10-15 minutes or until the artichokes are tender, then reduce the sauce further if necessary, until it’s thickened to your liking.

Stir in half of the reserved pickled lemon slivers, the final tablespoon of chopped coriander and the zest and juice of the fresh lemon. Check the seasoning and add more salt if required. Garnish with coriander leaves and the remaining slivered lemon rind. Serve with flatbreads or couscous.

16 thoughts on “Lamb and Artichoke Tagine

  1. Life is definitely too short to go dismembering artichokes. Except in your case. Have you not got enough and to spare? I bet there’s a knack to it, and after practising on about 50, you’ll probably have got it down to a fine art šŸ˜‰

  2. This looks really yummy. I love lamb and I absolutely adore artichokes. And I miss the old markets in Rome where you could buy beautiful fresh artichokes, already cleaned for you by the “fruttivendolo”. The cost a bit more, but like you I found cleaning them myself rather tedious work. (You’d be amazed at how fast those market people in Rome can do the job. Practice, I guess.)

    Well, nowadays I eat artichokes far less often. The specimens I can find in stores here tend to be rather too old and fibrous, and have clearly been sitting on the shelf for far too long. I turn to frozen artichoke wedges or bottoms when I need them for a recipe like this. I am SO jealous you get to grown your own!

    • Haha, well, I’ve just got back from a week’s holiday to catch up with my overdue messages and the garden and of course the artichokes have all run to flower! Luckily they’re still beautiful (and I still have half a bag of frozen ones in the freezer. šŸ˜‰ ) Thanks, Frank, you are generous as ever with your praise. Lx

  3. I’m so jealous of your garden full of artichokes. They just don’t grow well here. But in the rare instances when I do find good ones, I do always wish for one of those little old ladies you see at markets in Northern Italy cleaning one after another! The tagine sounds grand.

  4. About three weeks to go – when the current Antarctic winds subside spring asparagus and glorious artichokes will not be far behind ! Prepare artichokes most commonly as a first course or light lunch exactly as you do to everyone’s great enjoyment. Like making tagines, but oft lazily using ras el hanout from a few beloved spice merchants – yours looks very appetizing, And yes, would probably use some jarred bottoms for the dish . . .

  5. yes i agree with you – life is way too short for such fiddly stuff. i will use the pickled ones in a jar:) this looks fabulous linda. i love all the flavours here except for the lamb but chicken is a good sub. cheers sherry

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