My cookbook library and The Hairy Dieter’s Lamb Tagine

As I’ve mentioned a few times before, I own quite a few cookbooks and continue to buy more (I can’t resist a good cookbook on sale). However, when you have more than a few cookbooks, it can be difficult remembering where certain recipes you wanted to try are, and therefore get the most out of your books.

So I recently signed up to the website Eat Your Books to give it a try. Eat Your Books is a website that indexes cookbooks and allows you to create a catalogue (your bookshelf) of the books you have and then search them through an on-line database. It doesn’t actually give you the recipe, you need to go to your book for that, but it does give you the ingredients in the recipe.

So far I have added 149 books to my ‘bookshelf’, with a few books that I couldn’t enter (they were quite old ones) and I haven’t finished adding them all yet. I’ve found so far that only half of my books have been indexed, but I do have quite a few older and Australian books, so that may account for it. Most of my newer books were already indexed. The site allows you to “member index” one book at a time, so I have started adding one of my books already. The site also catalogues magazines, blogs and other on-line recipes.

This got me thinking about making better use of (and even rediscovering) my books. As a result, I have decided  to cook at least one recipe from one of my books every one to two weeks, and try to work my way through all my books (this will take a while to get through).  I also am not going to buy a new cookbook until I have cooked something from at least five books that I already own.

When I decided this, I had The Hairy Dieters book in my bag, so I have started with that book. I know I’ve cooked a dish from their book before, but this is a new ‘challenge’ and I have to start somewhere.

The slow cooking makes the lamb lovely and tender, and the chickpeas develop an almost creamy texture. The spices added just the right amount (for me at least) of heat. Definitely a dish I will be cooking again.

Book recipe number: 1

Number of cookbooks owned: 149+ (still counting)

Lamb Tagine

Lamb Tagine

Serves 5

You will need a large ovenproof/flameproof casserole dish or saucepan with a lid for this dish.


  • 750g lean lamb leg meat (or leg steaks) – trim off any hard fat and cut into approximately 3cm x 3cm pieces
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon hot chilli powder/ground chilli
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower/vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions – halved and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves – peeled and finely chopped or minced
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml vegetable stock (or 500ml cold water and one lamb stock cube – which is what the original recipe called for, however I used vegetable stock)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 400g can chickpeas – rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium sweet potato (250-300g) – peeled and cut into 2 – 2.5cm squares
  • 75g dried apricots, halved
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Flat leaf parsley (chopped) and lemon zest to serve – optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 160C fan forced (180C).
  2. Mix the spices (cumin, coriander, cinnamon and chilli powder) together in a small bowl. Season the lamb with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof/flameproof casserole dish or saucepan. Add the lamb, onions and garlic and fry over a high heat for a few minutes until lightly coloured. Add the spices and cook for 1-2 minutes, while stirring. Remove the pan from the heat once the spices start giving off a strong aroma.
  4. Add the tomatoes to the lamb along with the stock, honey and chickpeas. Return to the heat and bring to the simmer, stirring occasionally. Once simmering, cover and place in the oven to cook for 1 hour.
  5. After an hour, remove the dish from the oven and add the sweet potato and apricots. Stir, cover and return to the oven for a further 45-60 minutes until the lamb is tender.
  6. To serve, sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest. Serve with couscous or flat bread if you like.

Lamb Tagine adapted from –   Si King & David Myers The Hairy Dieters
Lamb Tagine


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