Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Slow Cooker Beef, Spinach and Prune Tagine

When I was precooking the combination of onion and garlic with the fragrant spices in this dish, the cinnamon, cumin, turmeric and ginger, my mind drifted to our holiday a few years ago in amazing and exotic Granada in the south of Spain, just over the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco which is still on my bucket list by the way. The Moroccan style foods we ate in Granada were delicious including the tapas, and have probably given me the taste for Tagines and spicy vegetable accompaniments. Then I wandered to the famous spice markets in Istanbul, Turkey where the aroma from the piles of colourful spices are intoxicating. For my friends reading this who don't like eating dates in their food, and there are a couple, I actually think they could be left out of this dish but definitely keep the prunes.. There is enough going on without them. 

Yoghurt topped Borani Banjan, ready to serve

And Borani Banjan

I served the  Beef Tagine with  Borani Banjan, which is the most delicious layered Afghan Eggplant dish. Recipe here. Laden with fresh herbs and garlic, fresh tomatoes and yoghurt, Mr. HRK really likes this one. Fortunately I had enough Japanese eggplants growing in my garden so that I could use young and fresh eggplant which is important for this dish. Otherwise I would have bought some from the Farmers markets where they are plentiful as well. I don't think the large eggplants from the supermarket are tender or young enough for this dish, unless you salt them first and are a seasoned eggplant connoisseur. We still have some fresh coriander growing as well, but it is only a matter of time before this goes to seed and then dies off with the heat. If you feel like going meat free, Borani Banjan is delicious eaten on its own with rice or couscous. Yum!

Why did I go to this much trouble? We were having our friends from Tennis over for the weekly after tennis Dinner Party which everyone takes turns with hosting. Now all of these people are good cooks, and I was in the mood for doing something a bit different and which could stretch easily to feed 9 people or even more in case a couple of extras turned up. On a good night there can be 14 to feed. A Beef Tagine came to mind, and one that I could cook a day ahead in the slow cooker. That way the flavours improve even more, and also it left me time to prepare the accompanying dishes on the day. I've cooked a few Tagines over the years, and I think this one is the tastiest yet. I based my recipe on one I found in the Australian Women's Weekly Best of Slow Cooking Cookbook which was originally for 6 serves. We enjoyed leftovers for the next couple of days, and also gave a couple of our  friends a takeaway container with leftovers.

Let's Cook:
Tonight's Tennis Dinner Menu

Beef, Spinach and Prune Tagine
Borani Banjan
Couscous Salad with Fresh Mint, Coriander and Parsley
Jamie Oliver's Flatbread

Tagine Ingredients:
Serves 10
A 4.5 litre slow cooker

1.8 kg Chuck or Beef Blade Steak chopped into chunks (It can be cheaper if you chop it up yourself, although some Butchers if you ask will chop it up for free)

Chuck steak which Mr. HRK chopped up for me
1/2 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2  red onions
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 1/2 cups beef stock
600 g canned diced tomatoes
150 g seeded dried dates
240 g pitted prunes
1 Bunch spinach, trimmed and chopped (270 g after trimming), or use Baby spinach leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons thinly sliced preserved lemon rind
70 g coarsely chopped roasted unsalted pistachios to serve
Chopped coriander and mint to serve


  1. Toss the beef in the flour. Heat half of the oil and turn a large frying pan onto a high heat. Cook the beef  quickly in batches until browned on all sides being careful it doesn't stew. When browned, transfer the lot to the slow cooker bowl. You may need to add some more oil if the beef is sticking.
  2. Add the remaining oil to the same pan and a moderate heat. Cook the onion and the garlic, stirring together, until the onion has softened. During this process you will be scraping up the brownings from the base of the pan. This will give the tagine a fantastic flavour. Add the spices and stir until fragrant. Add 1/2 cup of the stock and stir until the mixture boils.
  3. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker bowl with the rest of the stock and the tomatoes, and stir to combine. Cook in  your slow cooker on high for 4 hours, or on low for 8 hours.
  4. Add the dates, prunes, spinach, and half the preserved lemon rind. Cook covered on high until the spinach wilts, about 10 minutes. Or this step could be added when the Tagine is reheated the following day like I did. Season to taste.

 I served this Tagine in my earthenware Moroccan Tagine pot, so here it is soaking in the bath a couple of days before I used it. If the bases are left for a long period of time without using them, the base will crack over high heat. Thankfully this has never happened to me.

When the Tagine needs to be kept hot on the day of the dinner, I place it in the base of the Tagine, cover it in foil and keep it warm in the oven at 90 degrees Celsius. Then I add the conical lid to the Tagine base and serve. If I had a gas stove, I would probably just keep it heated up on the stove top.

To serve, sprinkle the Tagine with pistachio nuts and the remaining preserved lemon rind. I bought a jar of Preserved lemons at a specialty grocery and fruit shop, and a couple of pieces  are sliced finely on top of the Tagine. I served it with my Couscous salad and lots of fresh herbs (recipe).

Serve with flatbread to mop up all the delicious juices. We used Jamie Oliver's recipe to make these. Mr. HRK did a great job, making two separate batches, cooked on the BBQ, and flavoured with tarragon and rosemary infused olive oil. He prefers to do most of his cooking on the BBQ if he can. I think that it's a man's thing.

Flatbread dough

Home grown Tarragon and Rosemary infused olive oil

Flatbread cooking on the BBQ

If you try these recipes, I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Thanks for dropping by,

Bye for now



  1. Pauline this looks absolutely amazing and I love the look of both these dishes which sound like they would be amazing together too! :D

  2. this sounds fabulous pauline. i love middle eastern type flavours too. yes coriander always bolts here so i gave up growing it:) cheers sherry

    1. Thanks Sherry. Just saw your comment, only a few months later:) I'm sure I would have replied though and I am wondering if some of my replies are actually being published.


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