Spiced Mutton with Apricots



  • 1 kg mutton shoulder chop or braising steak
  • 250g/9oz organic, unsulphured dried apricots
  • 2 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 large onions, peeled and sliced
  • 3 large carrots , peeled and cut into 2cm/¾in chunks
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp whole coriander seeds, lightly crushed
  • 6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • a few small pieces dried ginger root (or1 tsp powdered)
  • pinch of mace
  • lamb/mutton stock
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 125g/4½oz good fruit chutney
  • salt and freshly black pepper


  1. Rinse the apricots well in cold water then place in a bowl. Pour over enough boiling water from the kettle to barely cover them. Leave to soak for at least an hour.
  2. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and carrot and sweat for a few minutes until softened. Add all the spices, and fry for a few more minutes. Transfer to your tagine or stockpot. Turn up the heat under the (now empty) frying pan and add the rest of the oil. Brown the meat quickly and add to the vegetables. Pour over the juice from the soaked apricots, the glass of wine, the chutney and enough stock to just (and only just) cover the meat.
  3. Bring to the boil, then reduce immediately to a very slow simmer. Cook like this, uncovered (or in a low oven with a lid on if you prefer) for 1½ hours. Add the apricots at this point (any earlier and they would get too mushy) and cook for a further ½ hour. By this time the meat should be extremely tender. Taste a bit and if in doubt cook for a little longer.
  4. Serve with boiled rice, into which you have stirred 5g/1 tsp of whole cumin or caraway seeds.

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