Lamb and fig stew with star anise


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 350 g onions, sliced
  • 500 g boneless leg of lamb, well trimmed and cut into 5 cm cubes
  • 150 g dried figs
  • 1½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 2 star anise
  • 350 g carrots, chopped
  • 350 g zucchini, chopped
  • chilli sauce to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • large handful of mixed fresh parsley and coriander, finely chopped


  1. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole dish or large heavy–based saucepan over a moderate heat.
  2. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute, stirring frequently, then add the onions and stir to coat with the oil.
  3. Turn the heat to low, put a piece of dampened baking paper on top of the onions and cover with a tight–fitting lid.
  4. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the onions are very tender and sweet.
  5. Add the lamb to the casserole dish.
  6. Pour in 1.
  7. 25 litres of water or enough to cover the lamb and onions.
  8. Increase the heat and bring to the boil, skimming to remove any foam.
  9. Reduce the heat to low.
  10. Add the figs, ginger, cinnamon and star anise.
  11. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, or until the meat is very tender.
  12. When the lamb is tender, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the casserole dish and set aside.
  13. Remove the spices and discard.
  14. Transfer half the liquid, onions and figs from the casserole dish to a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
  15. Stir this mixture back into the casserole to thicken the sauce.
  16. Alternatively, remove the lamb and discard the spices, then use a stick blender to purée some of the onions and figs in the casserole dish.
  17. Stir well.
  18. Return the lamb to the casserole dish and add the carrots.
  19. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  20. Add the zucchini and continue simmering for 5 minutes, or until both vegetables are tender but still crisp.
  21. Taste the lamb stew and stir in the chilli sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
  22. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and coriander, and serve immediately, with saffron rice on the side, if you like.

Serves 4
Preparation: about 20 minutes
Cooking: about 1 hour 40 minutes


Source: Fresh fruit and desserts
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