Wanstead dinners, V: Spring spice

Wansteadium’s food blogger Suki Orange writes: Here is Karen Poole’s fifth instalment of her Wanstead dinners. Another one to come in a couple of weeks. I hope you enjoy it.


 Tagine of Lamb

This is a pretty freeform recipe that you can chop and change to your tastes or to whatever ingredients you have handy or are in season.  I’ve chosen lamb, as British spring lamb is now in the shops. But if you fancy something different, this basic recipe can be adapted to chicken, all vegetable or even fish. Just adjust the cooking times accordingly.

North African food has become fashionable over the last few years. Characteristically, the flavours are sweet, savoury and spicy without being overpoweringly so.

It can also be a healthy option, with an emphasis on vegetables, especially pulses and root vegetables. This also has the benefit of making it an economical cuisine, as you can stretch any meat recipe by adding extra veg without losing the satisfying rich flavours. I make no claim to the authenticity of this recipe. But I can attest to of being very tasty!

Ras al Hanout is a North African curry powder, if you can’t find a ready mix, contact me by email at K.E.Poole@hotmail.com and I will send you a recipe. Don’t worry, it’s all easy to find spices.

Harissa is a chilli paste. Again if you can’t find it, use any chilli sauce or hot stuff.

Preserved lemons come in jars from North African or Middle Eastern shops (The TFC in Leytonstone sells them). Or you can make them yourselves – there’s a Jamie Oliver recipe you can Google. It’s basically lemons packed in salt to draw out the moisture. For this recipe just use the rinds. I guess you could use some chopped fresh lemon rind at a pinch.

Ingredients for four greedy people

  • 1.5 lb lamb off the bone – such as neck fillet
  • Two onions, chopped
  • Garlic, chopped
  • Three or four carrots, in large pieces
  • Four potatoes in large pieces
  • Olive oil
  • One to three dspns of Ras Al Hanout, depending on your taste
  • Dspn of powdered ginger
  • Dspn ground cumin
  • One or two cans of chickpeas.
  • Two cans of tomatoes
  • Handful of olives
  • Dollop of harissa to taste
  • Two or three preserved lemons – flesh discarded.
  • Handful of dried fruit, such as dates, figs, apricots, prunes or raisins
  • Tbsp of honey
  • Water to cover
  • Handful of coriander, chopped
  • Salt & pepper


1. Brown the meat in a heavyish pan and remove
2. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and potatoes – add more oil if necessary – and sweat them for five to ten minutes.
3. Add the powdered ginger, cumin and Ras al Hanout and cook-out for a minute or so.
4. Add the remaining ingredients except the coriander and then simmer over a low heat until the meat is tender.
5. Adjust the seasoning and stir in chopped coriander right at the last minute.

Serves with rice, couscous or bread

Healthy aspect

Vitamin B1

  • Promotes hydrochloric acid production and so aids digestion.

Amino acids

  •   Histidine aids collagen synthesis
  •  Lysine  maintains lean body mass
  •  Taurine helps nerve transmission
  • Threonine aids the formation of tooth enamel, collagen and elastin
  • Valine calms emotions and helps mental vigour

Vitamin A

  • Aids the utilsation of iron
  • Supports vision, sensory perception, language and attention


  • Oxygen transport
  •  Glucose metabolism

 Karen Poole BA Dip Nutrition  CNM MBANT can be contacted at  K.E.Poole@hotmail.com Or www.karenpoolenutrition.co.uk

3 thoughts on “Wanstead dinners, V: Spring spice”

  1. Exciting recipe – plus I could do with some mental vigour right now.

    Interesting how the ingredients seem hard to source in Wanstead. Market gap for an upmarket grocer selling every cook’s delight?

  2. Another wonderful recipe, I intend to try it very soon. As ever, a great contribution to healthy eating from Suki Orange and Karen Poole. Please keep the recipes coming!

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