Lamb Tagine with Black Eyed Beans

Prep time: 15 mins | Cooking time: 2 hours

This dish contains 3 of the Simanim, the traditional foods eaten at Rosh Hashana: Carrots, Dates and Black Eyed Beans.

But are black eyed beans the Siman that got there by accident? Jewish food historian
Gil Marks suggests that black eyed beans’ inclusion in the Siman story is essentially a case of mistaken identity. Becoming a traditional Rosh Hashanah food in the Middle Ages, black eyed beans in Arabic are called ‘lubiya’. It is believed that they were mixed up with Fenugreek, which in Aramaic is ‘rubiya’. The Talmud includes rubiya in its Simanim as a symbol of prosperity and fertility, because of the closeness to the word ‘yirbu’ which translates to increase or multiply. 

However, even if black eyed beans weren’t part of the Talmudic listings of Simanim, they are incredibly suitable for the task. Harvested in early autumn, they are ideal for the festive season, and were certainly growing during the Talmudic era as an essential crop in the region. Growing in large volumes and expanding in water, they are ideal for representing growth and multiplicity, especially when served in abundance.

Our lubiya has been run through a deliciously sweet and hearty tagine packed with carrots, dates and apricots and fragrant with rich spices. We suggest serving on a bed of herby couscous.


  • 2 Brown Onions roughly chopped 
  • 2 Carrots sliced into 2cm rounds
  • 1½ tbsp Ras el Hanout
  • ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • ½ tsp Turmeric
  • 1.3kg Lamb cubes
  • 800g (2 tins) Chopped Tomatoes
  • 400ml Water
  • 1-2 tins Black Eyed Beans drained
  • 10 Dried Medjool Dates pitted and halved
  • 10 Dried Apricots halved
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • 1½ tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste


  1. In a heavy bottomed casserole pan heat 1½ tbsp oil and add onions. Salt and fry until translucent, stirring regularly.
  2. Add in spices and stir to combine, cooking for 2 mins. Do not allow your onions to burn.
  3. Add in the carrot rounds, then the lamb cubes and stir, searing the lamb pieces for a few mins.
  4. Add two tins of chopped tomatoes, water, chopped dates and dried apricots.
    If the liquid doesn’t cover the ingredients in the pot, add water until covered.
  5. Stir to combine then bring to the boil. Stir once more and turn down to a simmer. Put the lid on and cook for 1½ hours
  6. Add in 1 to 2 tins of drained black eyed beans and cook for a further 30 mins.
  7. Serve on a bed of herby couscous.

This dish can be made in advance, frozen and reheated.

(Image Credit: Sophy Weiss Photography)