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Beef and Quince Tagine

We went to Fez in Morocco over Christmas 2007, and one of the treats we gave ourselves was a day's cooking lessons in Riad Laroussa, a very fine hotel/guesthouse in the centre of Fez's Medina. This is one of the dishes we learnt that day, a fragrant flavoursome stew; real slooooowwww food, you can leave it bubbling away and get on with other things. We have discovered that the subtle Moroccan flavours of the beef element don't survive reheating or freezing well - although it still tastes great. However, the quince element does keep its fantastic flavour.

  • Total time: 2 to 3 hours

Serves: 4


  • 1kg stewing beef cut into 2.5cm squares
    salt and pepper
    1.5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
    1.5 heaped tsp ground ginger
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    3 medium onions, finely sliced
    8 strands of saffron
    half a tsp ground turmeric
    light olive oil to fry with
    250mls Vegetable Nage or Stock
    250mls water (you may need more)

    2 large quinces, cleaned and quartered
    half tbsp butter or ghee
    1 tbsp sugar (you may need more according to taste)
    half dspn ground cinnamon

    Sesame seeds to serve


  1. Put a third of the onions, the beef and cinnamon, turmeric and ginger into a large cooking pot. Cover with 100mls of Nage and bring to the boil. Add a further third of the onions, and the remaining Nage and the water; if the meat isn't very nearly covered by liquid, add a bit more water. Reduce the heat and let simmer for an hour with the lid firmly in place. Alternatively, you can transfer it to a large lidded casserole dish and place in a low oven
  2. Meanwhile, put quinces, a good pinch of salt and a small amount of water in another pan, and bring to the boil. After 25 minutes, when fruit is softening, add the sugar, butter or ghee and cinnamon and stir in gently - try not to break up the fruit too much. Cook until almost all the juice is absorbed and the fruit is soft. Set aside
  3. To the beef, add the last of the onions and the saffron, and cook for at least an hour longer - ideally two. By this stage the beef should be melting, and the onions mostly reduced to make a thickish gravy
  4. Scatter with sesame seeds and serve with couscous and a green salad; the fruit and meat should be served together, but only combined at the last minute to preserve their different flavours

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