Spiced Lamb with aubergines, chickpeas and apricots

A recipe from Stephen Markwick

This started life as an Elizabeth David recipe but has become more of a tagine over the years. Stephen likes the addition of turmeric and cardamom and the apricots give it a nice fruity note. You could leave out the chickpeas but they make it stretch further. A very popular dish and one well suited to making ahead as it reheats well.

Serves 6


  • 110g dried chickpeas, soaked or 2 tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 kg boned shoulder of lamb
  • 1 tbsp each of coriander seeds, cumin seed and cardamom pods ground roughly in a grinder or with a pestle and mortar
  • 2 good size aubergines
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 3-4 tbsp each sunflower and olive oil
  • 75g (about 12) dried apricots
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 250ml white wine
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp tomato pureé
  • 1 x 400g tin whole or chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml lamb or chicken stock
  • 2-3 tbsp each chopped mint and fresh coriander
  • A good squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. If using dried chickpeas soak them overnight then bring them to the boil in fresh water, skim and cook for ab out 1-1¼ hours until just tender
  2. Cut up the lamb, trim off any excess fat and season it with the whole ground spices and salt and pepper.
  3. Cut the aubergine into fairly large cubes and sprinkle with salt. Tip the cubes into a colander under a weighted plate and set aside. After 20-30 minutes rinse the aubergine cubes and pat dry.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a casserole, add the slice onions, garlic and turmeric and cook over a moderate hear until soft.
  5. In a separate frying pan, brown the meat in another couple of tablespoons of oil.
  6. Once the meat is browned add it to the casserole then tip the aubergines in the frying pan, add a little more oil and fry until they have taken on some colour.
  7. Return the  aubergines to the colander to drain off any excess oil and set aside to add later.
  8. Cover the apricots and saffron with 100ml of the white wine or with water, heat gently and keep on one side.
  9. Add the tomato pureé and chopped tomatoes to the meat and onions.
  10. Deglaze the frying pan with the remaining white wine and stock.
  11. Add to the casserole and bring it to a simmering point. Check the seasoning, then put a lid on the pan and cook in a slow oven (150°C, Gas Mk2) for approx. 60 minutes or until the lamb is just done.
  12. Add the cubed aubergine, soaked apricots, chickpeas, herbs and lemon juice and check the seasoning again. Either return to the oven for another 10 minutes or leave on a very low heat to let the flavours mingle.

To serve

Serve with couscous or rice flavoured with a little saffron, and some Greek yoghurt mixed with garlic and mint.