This ancient Berber dish is prepared around March or April in Morocco, when both green almonds and fava beans are seasonally available. The lamb is slow-cooked with ground mace and finished with the almonds, the beans, and a generous helping of sauteed onions.
I know next to nothing about traditional Moroccan cuisine and the recipe looked simple enough, so why not? I was more interested in cooking with green almonds, though, because I have only tasted it raw.
After a brief simmer, the almonds reminded me of crunchy green beans, which went rather nicely with the creamy favas and fork-tender lamb. The broth, with nothing but mace and onions, had a surprisingly deep flavor, but not so strong that it overpowers the almonds and favas.
Agneau aux Fèves Vertes et aux Amandes
Lamb with Fava Beans and Green Almonds
makes about 6 servings
Mace (from The Spice House) and Fresh Fava Beans.
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds lamb leg or shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 cups water
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
2 onions, chopped
1 cup green almonds
3 cups shelled fava beans, about 1 pound
1 tablespoon honey
- I honestly can’t tell the difference between mace and nutmeg. Feel free to use one in place of the other if you agree. Mace is supposedly milder.
- The original recipe suggests using blanched almonds instead of the green almonds.
- In a large heavy pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the pieces of lamb and brown until evenly colored on all sides.
- Add the water, salt, pepper, and mace. Bring to a boil and immediately lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover and braise for about 2 hours, adding more water if necessary.
- Start sauteeing the onions towards the end of braising. In a separate pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and saute the onions, just until golden. Stir in the green almonds.
- Add the onions and green almonds, along with the fava beans, to the lamb. Stir in the honey and continue cooking over low heat for about 15 minutes, just until the favas are soft and cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Trying a completely random recipe pays off sometimes.