Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Moroccan Lamb Skewers with Figs & Red Onions



If I wanted an instant hit of the exotic these days, my go-to cuisine is Moroccan.

I don't know when I started to fantasize about Moroccan cuisine: bits and pieces overheard on the radio, snippets of articles and fragments of recipes here and there, I suppose, flit information in and out of my conscious and subconscious mind. Not living in proximity to a Moroccan restaurant, I was forced to start experimenting on my own.

These Moroccan lamb skewers are fairly simple to do, but they're so fabulously delicious that our guests did not know what hit them. We served these lamb skewers as one of our contribution to a potluck barbecue for Canada Day.

As with Moroccan dishes, the spicing is complex: there are layers of sweet and savoury and spicy with each and every bite.

For the lamb, it is a marinate-overnight kind of deal. I cut a leg of lamb into fairly large-sized cubes (1.5" x 1.5"), partly because I wanted them to look, well, sizeable, and partly because I really am so lazy that the larger cubes I cut, the less cubes I have to do. I had already spent a great deal of time cleaning up the leg, getting the gristle off.

Please note that I do not remember the exact quantities here, so these are only approximations.

For a 4 lb leg of lamb, into the marinade went
6 cloves of garlic,
a cup of extra-virgin olive oil,
zest and juice from a couple of lemons,
1/4 cup of honey,
2 tbsp of ground coriander,
1 tbsp of ground cumin,
1 tbsp of smoked hot paprika (or cayenne or chili flakes),
1 tbsp of minced ginger,
handful of mint, cilantro, and parsley leaves,
2 tbsp of black pepper, and
salt to taste.

I always taste my marinades before I put the meat in (of course, I can't taste it after I've dumped the meat in). If it doesn't taste right to me, then I add ingredients here and there until it tastes good.

Marinate the lamb in the fridge, overnight preferably.

Skewer the chunks alternating with red onions and dried figs.

I used dried figs because that is what I had in the house. Admittedly, I haven't worked with dried figs before and I didn't know that they will be so very hard (didn't soften when cooked) and so very sweet to eat on its own.

For next time, I will defnitely cut them up into smaller pieces and maybe just add them in the marinade instead of the honey.

If you don't have dried figs, dried apricots would work nicely instead of the figs.

Onto the grill they went.

Once off the skewers, there is also interesting textural contrast going on with the red onions and the lamb. If I had used a softer dried fruit instead of the figs, it would have been better. There will be soft, crunchy, chewy, meaty, fruity, savoury in every bite. Oh well. That is hindsight.

But I cannot really complain about these Moroccan lamb skewers even with the criticism of hindsight. They were fantabulous, if I might say so myself. (And I don't think that's my gigantormous ego talking.)

It is the kind of dish that makes people think I have more cooking skills than I actually do.

If serving one plate at a time, you can serve pieces of lamb, red onions, dried figs (or dried apricots) on a bed of couscous.

You were delicious!

Moroccan dishes at [eatingclub] vancouver:
Moroccan Lamb Skewers with Figs & Red Onions
Preserved Lemons
Moroccan Chicken Tagine

We're submitting this to Monthly Mingle.

This month: Grill it!, hosted by Sig of Live to Eat.

More Monthly Mingle information at What's for Lunch, Honey?


  1. I have not tasted figs before. I don't think we have those here. But I have seen dried apricots somewhere. I have to remember that the next time I go out shopping... You do have an exotic sounding dish I want to try too!

  2. Oh wow, those look good - we don't eat much lamb, but I'd love to try these - I love anything that goes through an overnight marinade!

  3. I am not a huge fig fan, but love lamb! These look delicious! I am going to have to try it.

  4. I've never eaten Moroccan food before but you have made me a fan before I have even tasted the food! I'm going to try this recipe.

  5. Those looks yummy!! Too bad I missed the July 1st Eating Club get together. :( I hope you will post more dishes from that party. Thanks..

  6. I just made some moroccan lamb shanks too! Great minds? I LOVE the addition of figs in your skewers.

  7. I'm not very familiar with Moroccan cuisine, but this sure does make me want to learn more!

  8. I was just about to say exotic by looking at the first two photos and you mentioned "exotic" too!

  9. Holy cow, it should be illegal to post pictures of such delicious looking food. That is beautiful, beautiful meat.

    I often too get an urge for this type of cuisine and the their is no stopping me until I eat it.

    What a beautiful recipe.

  10. mmm... i can taste these already. i need something exotic in my life.

  11. Oh man do those look & sound fabulous! I love that flavor profile together. I bet if you had soaked the figs in the marinade with the meat they would have softened up but I also wonder if fresh figs would work, though I guess you'd lose the chewiness

  12. I love grilling things on skewers--it makes everything easy to turn and cook at once. I've never marinated anything in oil before, but with all those spices you put in, it looks like it turned out wonderfully! The lamb looks so tender.

  13. I love all the spices in the marinade. I had moroccan food just last week and the flavours are so intense and warm.

  14. Kumusta kayo?
    Firstly, thanks for dropping by my blog.

    I love all things Moroccan as well. There is a vegetarian tangine dish with prunes, quinoa and olives that I have been craving for.

    As for the dried figs, some health food store sells the semi-dried ones, so it's more moist. Or you can rehydrate them by soaking them in some warm water. I prefer to steam them to "refresh" them. This method can be used for any dried fruits.

    take care,

  15. I love grilled food, especially skewered stuff... yes I totally agree that they look delicious and fatabulous! ;)

  16. Oh so cute. I love your intimate comment to your lamb skewers.

    Hmmm, I like the idea of dried figs, too bad that didn't work, what do you think about dates?

  17. With figs? Wow, that sounds really good.

  18. never had figs and lamb before.. sounds like a winning combo... i bet ya you ate this with couscous?

  19. I completely agree with Moroccan cuisine for the number one choice when you want exotic, amazing food. This looks terrific. I'm a huge fig fan too. Thanks for posting!

  20. Ah come on! It's okay to brag about your cooking skills. hehe. You did a great job, i LOVE those! I LOVE moroccan food in general by the way. Great flavors.

  21. Not too familiar with moroccan cooking although I do like their spice blends. Lamb skewers are always a good idea.

  22. This sounds incredible. Love the idea of putting the figs on the skewer with the lamb.

  23. MMMMMMM Moroccan has to be one of my faves, lamb is totally made for it!:)

  24. I love Moroccan food! I am also a fig fiend..I love figs in any form, fresh or the Turkish dried figs..their jam is also a favorite.:)

    I'll get some lamb from the farmer's market tomorrow and will make these on Sunday.

  25. I am going to do this when CS gets home but may use fresh figs. Incredible!

  26. Love Moroccan food, I live very close to a Moroccan restaurant, that is my excuse for never attempting it at home... :) This is a fabulous recipe... thanks for sending this to the Grill it event...

  27. I still don't fully "understand" figs yet. It's still very "exotic" to me. =)

    Yes! The marinading... When we first encountered "North American" cooking, we were quite puzzled on how come nobody seemed to marinade their meats. Teehee.

    We're slowly posting the dishes from the July 1 potluck. Unfortunately, we were too busy and I didn't get to take pictures of all of the food. Just some... I think perhaps the ones we made , coz they were ready before all the craziness ensued, hehe.

    kat & nora:
    Oh! Yeah, the putting of the figs in the marinade may help in the softening of it. Or I guess just soaking them in some liquid, water or whatever.

    lori lynn:
    Like figs, dates are also a bug mystery to me! =D


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