Peckham Goat Tagine

January 2, 2013


Peckham Goat Tagine

Tagines have always been something I’ve viewed as having great potential to be really tasty, but I’ve never eaten a good one. What I imagined in my head to be a thick, rich, aromatic stew with complex flavours always arrived as a thin, watery bowlful bearing way too much dried fruit.

Because I am a spoiled and lucky girl, I received a magnificent tagine for chrimbo; a chance to turn things around and make the tadge I’ve always wanted, Pecknam stylee.

The tagine is heated on a little metal thing that looks like a ping pong bat with dimples in it, which helps to distribute the heat evenly across the base. It’s important that the tagine is heated slowly, otherwise it will crack and spoil all your fun before you’ve started.

The base was thickly covered with a bed of onions, the idea being that they would cook down, becoming silken and lush and absorbent of everything above. This being Peckham (bruv), the meat had to be goat, which is very easy to come by here. Its ballsy mutton like flavor is perfect (you could obviously substitute mutton if you can find goat) and it loves long cooking to become properly tender. For veg, some of those little white baby aubergines, which also need a good simmering into submission (they remain stubbornly bitter otherwise) and some small turnips, diced.

For the fruit, which for me is potentially the making but most commonly the breaking of a good tagine, I bought dried fruits from Persepolis, ending up with a kind of Moroccan/Persian hybrid recipe. There are many similarities between the cuisines. In went a dried lime, which the Iranians add mostly to stews where they bob about, gradually releasing a flavor which is like a lime essential oil, emerging at the end shriveled and spent. Apricots went in too, but not those horrible overly sweet and sulphurous supermarket ones but fragrant perfumed Persian fruits. A few scarlet barberries flecked the top, adding sourness, like tart cranberries.

For heat, I couldn’t help whacking a scotch bonnet in. I’m sorry. If I didn’t I’d be betraying Peckham. It was left whole though and just pierced, to contain heat but leach flavour. Having impulse bought a bag of African hot peppers, a couple of those went into a spice paste with loads of garlic, two types of paprika and a shed load of ras el hanout. It could have blown our heads off but didn’t; a bit on the hot side for a tagine, but with an enjoyable slow build.

After three hours of simmering and steaming what emerged was the tadge I’d always wanted; deep and complex, sweet then spicy then sour, lips were sticky from slow cooked onions and goat fat. A scattering of mint and spring onion freshened things up at the end.

This is, as you would imagine, even better the next day and again the day after that. I served it with flat bread and Sally Butcher’s Borani-ye Esfanaj (spinach with yoghurt – from Persia in Peckham), which is one of my favourite yoghurty arrangements of all time.

Peckham Goat Tagine

(serves 6)

500g diced goat meat (or mutton)
4 small turnips, peeled and cut to the same size as the aubergines
6 small white aubergines, halved
3 onions, sliced
1 scotch bonnet chilli, left whole but pierced
250ml water
1 dried lime
5 dried apricots
1 scant tablespoon barberries
Mint leaves, finely sliced
1 spring onion, finely sliced

For the paste

5 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 African hot pepper dried chillies (optional)
2 tablespoons ras el hanout
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (smoky paps)
1 tablespoon water

Ideally I would have marinated the goat overnight in the paste then added it straight to the tagine without browning. I didn’t because I wasn’t organised enough so I’ve set out the method below as I cooked it.

Start by heating the tagine slowly. Add some olive oil, the onions and scotch bonnet chilli. Let the onions cook down gently while you brown the meat.

Cover a plate with flour and season it with salt and pepper. Dust each cube of the goat meat in it. Heat a frying pan and add some oil. Brown the meat on all sides. This will need to be done in several batches. Add this to the tagine, followed by all the other ingredients, including the paste. Season with salt and pepper and cook on a lowish heat for three hours, stirring every now and then after the first hour or so. After two hours, I’d advise you pick out the scotch bonnet chilli, because it’s only a matter of time before it bursts and you get a lot more heat than you bargained for.

Scatter over the mint and spring onion and serve with plenty of flat bread for dipping.

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  • Avatar
    Reply Ed January 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Looks and sounds delicious – would work in a sandwich too, no?

    Happy New Year Duude

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      Dude! Of COURSE it would work in a sandwich ha ha. It’s basically an open sandwich on that flat bread as it is…just need to close the deal now with those leftovers. Happy New Year to you too!

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    Reply Donald Edwards January 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    You might not want to do a sandwich with goat, the meat is just a little bit too bony, maybe do it with mutton for an awesome sandwich filling tagine…

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 2, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      My teeth are such ROCK HARD MOTHERS they can bite through any bones no problem (yeah maybe take it off the bone first or er, use mutton)

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    Reply Ozzy January 2, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    Very nice!
    I didn’t know tagine came with a metal heat distribution thing. Interesting.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      Yeah, I think you generally need to buy it separately but obviously they should be easily available in the same shop…I had no idea either until I got given one!

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    Reply Boz January 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Looks amazing!

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    Reply Lizzie January 2, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    OoooOoooh so that’s what you do with those egg-like white aubs! It looks delicious. What a lovely present.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm

      I know! Don dons came through with a good un there. Those aubs really need some cooking; they were still not really that edible after two hours cooking.

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    Reply Gene January 2, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    You know, I’ve been craving a nice tangine, yours looks great! Nice present!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 2, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      Cheers! Yes I am very lucky lady.

  • Avatar
    Reply Helen January 2, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Oh Helen, I’ve missed yourPersian/Peckham recipes 🙂 It mkes me want Lahmacun though, and suddenly my current dinner isn’t looking so appetizing…

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 2, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      Aww thanks Helen. Although now I also want lahmacun…

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    Reply Jess January 3, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Oo, glad to see persopolis has barberries – got Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem for Christmas and these feature in a few of the recipes. Thought they might be impossible to find so lucky that they’re just round the corner!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 3, 2013 at 11:16 am

      LOVE that book too – I really must cook more from it. And yes, Persepolis is the place!

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    Reply pilsbury January 3, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Also not a lover of tagines normally, so maybe i’ll give this one a try – can I ask you where you get your flatbreads from locally?

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      Reply Helen January 3, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      Hey! I get them from Khan’s – they’re labelled as naan breads but are a bit like a cross between a naan and a flatter flat bread if you know what I mean. They are so good, particularly when warmed up.

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    Reply pilsbury January 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Great – thanks! There’s a good little Turkish (I *think*, hope I’m not offending anyone!) shop near the GG end of Lordship Lane that sells good flatbreads too (+ everything else middle eastern/Mediterranean when I can’t make it to Persepolis), but good to have a Peckham alternative. Ta

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 3, 2013 at 6:08 pm

      Don’t worry about offending anyone, I do it all the time 😉 I think I know where you mean, it’s by Goose Green and has the veg outside and sells biltong?

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    Reply Ashley Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine) January 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Complex process but gorgeous and I’m sure tasty! Great job 🙂

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    Reply Stacy January 4, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Wonderful, rich dish! The addition of the Scotch bonnet was inspired and, because we LOVE hot food, I think I’d leave mine in. I use my little heat distributor thingy when making rice and it works a treat! Now I have another use. Thank you!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 4, 2013 at 10:21 am

      Yeah once it bursts it really releases the heat – not very authentic fora tagine but hey, who cares

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    Reply A'ppetizer January 31, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Completely agree on the no good tagine out there comment. This looks delicious though. I recently went to morocco and didn’t purchase myself a tagine… still wondering why. I honestly think the excess dried fruit put me off. Looking at this though. Great job.

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    Reply alec February 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

    love this – really want to try goat, but dont know where to buy it.

    Asked at William Rose and they just said to try Peckham but no specifics.. where did you get yours?


    • Avatar
      Reply Helen February 11, 2013 at 11:48 am

      Hi Al, I bought it from the butchers on Peckham High Street, just down from Persepolis. H

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    Reply Smirker May 31, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Helen, long time reader first time commenter…. I LOVE your pestle and mortar. Either give it to me or tell me where it came from. Your choice 🙂

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen May 31, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Welcome! I’m afraid it was a gift so I don’t know, sorry! You can find that style pretty much anywhere though I think.

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    Reply Linda November 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    I live in a small village in Canada where we are not able to get the aubergine and those little white turnip. Was wondering what I could utilize as a substitute??

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen December 1, 2013 at 11:03 am

      It’s hard to say without knowing what you can get. Um, do you get the larger versions? Any kind of white vegetables or radish?

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