Tagine Zeetoun

Image: Ryma Tchier

Image: Ryma Tchier

Which Arab on this planet does not love olives? Oh the wonders it can do for your hair, skin and stomach. With olive trees growing left, right and centre in North Africa, a common dish in Maghrebi cuisine is Tagine zeetoun, which is generally served throughout Ramadan.

While typically a tagine would be used for stewing the lamb, these days it is used more for decoration, cultural importance and all that jazz. Because we’re short on daylight hours, a pressure cooker will be a fine substitute in this recipe. Green olives are also preferred here, as their flavour would work well with the sauce.


  • 1 tomato
  • 2 onions
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 jar of stuffed green olives, whole or sliced
  • 250 g of lamb fillet, sliced into large chunks
  • Water
  • 2-3 tsp of salt
  • 2-3 tsp of white pepper
  • 1-2 tsp of paprika
  • 1-2 tsp of tomato paste
  • Freshly chopped parsley to garnish


  1. Pour the jar of stuffed green olives in a medium sized pot and pour enough water so that all the olives are submerged. Turn the heat on and allow it to boil.
  2. Peel and quarter the onions, quarter the tomato and blend with the garlic cloves in a good processor. Add a little water so the contents do not stick to the container.
  3. Bring around one litre of water to boil, as this will be used later.
  4. Pour the mixture into a pressure cooker. Add the lamb fillet chunks and season to taste with salt, white pepper and paprika. Add the tomato paste and allow the mixture to cook for a while.
  5. Now pour in the boiling water, keeping the meat on one side so the water doesn’t blanch out its flavour. Tighten the lid and allow to cook for 45 minutes or until the lamb is tender.
  6. Once the olives have been boiling, remove from heat and pour them into a strainer. Refill the pot with water and pour the olives back in to be boiled. We repeat the process to soften the olives up.
  7. Remove the lamb fillets from the pressure cooker once time is up. Pour the sauce into a smaller pot or tagine and allow to reduce.
  8. Remove the olives from the heat once boiled and strain them again. If they are whole, allow them to cool, slice them into thirds, and pour them into the pot or tagine. If they are pre-sliced, pop them into the sauce and let it simmer for around five minutes.
  9. Remove from the heat and place the lamb chunks back into the pot or tagine. Garnish with some fresh ba’douness (parsley).

Ya’tik assehha wal hana; dig in!

By Ryma Tchier

Ryma is a Bachelor of Arts (Media)/B of Laws student at Maquarie University and hopes that her degree will enable her to do some good in the world. She’s a major bookworm with a self-proclaimed “kiss of death”, whereby every book she reads ultimately becomes too popular for its own good and finds itself turned into a motion picture. Oh the horror.

Categories: Food, Ramadan Cookbook

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