Lamb, Squash & Garbanzo Stew, Moroccan-Style

Lamb shoulder

Lamb shoulder

By Cat, April 2010 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve not yet tried this recipe.

I’m just beginning to explore Moroccan foods. I once tried a Moroccan restaurant near my office in Portland. I don’t recall what I ordered, but it came swimming in a burning hot red oily liquid that definitely put me off. I think it was supposed to be Harissa sauce.

Like many Moroccan dishes, this recipe combines the lamb with garbanzos (chickpeas), and cubed winter squash. You could use yams instead of squash, and lima beans instead of garbanzos, if desired. I love the added flavor from saffron in this recipe. Go light on the harissa the first time unless you are used to the heat of Moroccan foods. The heat from the Ras el Hanout spice mix used to marinate the meat might be more than enough…

See also: 1. Lamb, Pork, Small Game Menu2. Mediterranean Menu3. Lamb (About)4. Lamb Roast (About); 5. Winter Squash (About)

Lamb, Squash & Garbanzos, with Ras el Hanout

This recipe is adapted from Cassablanca-Moroccan Lamb at Group Recipes(1). For more info on how to make Ras el Hanout, see my Herb & Spice Blends article. It is a sweet-spicy and hot flavor that can be made even hotter by the addition of more cayenne or other peppers. This spice blend is very similar to the Indian garam masala, with the addition of cayenne.

This recipe uses lamb shanks, which are fairly fatty and boney, not very meaty, and require a long, slow-cooking time. You can make it boneless (and less fatty) by using lamb stew meat, or speed up the cooking time by using lamb shoulder chops or leg of lamb steaks. This makes a LOT. I’ve cut it down a bit, but still…

One of the garnishes is harissa sauce. If you live near a middle-eastern market, you can buy it pre-prepared. Otherwise you must mix it yourself, and you have more control over its heat – it is quite hot. Check out the many recipes for harissa on Group Recipes (2). Basically, you need fresh or dried red peppers or flakes, garlic, coriander, salt and other optional spices. To make it a sauce, you add cider vinegar and let it sit a bit for the flavors to meld. OR you could skip the harissa and just use hummus for dipping your pita.

I’ve not tested this yet.


Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Ras el Hanout mix from ground spices:
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp unrefined sea salt
  • ¾ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • 1/4 – ½ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp allspice or cardamom
  • ¼ tsp clove
  • Stew
  • 3 lb lamb shanks, or 1.5 lbs shoulder chop or leg of lamb steak, cut into bite-size pieces, or lamb stew meat
  • 3 onions, divided
  • 1 Tbsp ras el hanout spice mix (from above), plus more to taste
  • Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp unsalted butter, divided
  • large pinch saffron
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup crushed tomatoes
  • ¾ cup sprouted & cooked chickpeas (garbanzos), rinsed & drained
  • 2 cups pumpkin or butternut squash, chunked
  • ½ cup pitted prunes
  • Accompaniments
  • pita bread
  • hummus (optional)
  • harissa sauce (see my notes, above)
  • Equipment
  • medium bowl
  • cast iron skillet or Dutch oven
  • saucier


  1. Sprout garbanzos (chick peas) over 2-3 days, rinsing twice a day after first day. Then cook until tender. See Soaking, Sprouting, or Canning Beans and Other Legumes for details.
  2. Prep: If using shanks, leave them whole but trim off excess fat. Cut meat from bones of shoulder or other chops/steaks, then cut meat into 1″ chunks, reserving bones.
  3. Spice mix: grind whole seeds, etc; measure all ground spices into small jar with salt  and pepper. Screw on lid and shake until well combined.
  4. Grate 2 onions and mix well with 1 Tbsp (or more) of the spice mix plus additional salt and pepper.
  5. Chop remaining onion.
  6. Seed, peel and cube squash (or yams).
  7. Marinate meat: Thoroughly coat chunks of meat with onion/spice mixture and marinate in fridge ½ – 2 hours.
  8. Stew: Melt 1 Tbsp butter in cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. Add marinated meat and brown lightly on all sides. Add saffron and cinnamon stick, and enough water to barely cover. Bring to a boil.
  9. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, for 90 minutes.
  10. If you used shanks, let mixture cool slightly, then remove shanks. Pull meat from bones, keeping pieces as large as possible. Discard fat, gristle and bones.
  11. If used chop/steak, remove meat pieces.
  12. Skim fat from liquid, or refrigerate overnight and remove fat. Refrigerate meat.
  13. In saucier, heat remaining tsp butter and 1 tsp oil. Add sliced onions and sprinkle with sugar, then salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes, tossing or stirring only when brown. Turn heat to low and cook until onions are very soft and brown, about 20 minutes.
  14. Add tomatoes and cooking liquid from the lamb, and bring to a boil. Add meat, garbanzos and squash/yams. Simmer, covered, 15 minutes.
  15. Remove lid, stir in prunes and simmer until thick, about 15 – 20 minutes more.
  16. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  17. Serve with harissa sauce and pita.


  1. Group Recipes: Cassablanca-Moroccan Lamb (–moroccan-lamb.html)
  2. Group Recipes, articles on Harissa (

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