The Guerrilla Gardener’s Baghdad beef stew

The Guerrilla Gardener’s Baghdad beef stew

Recipes From a Normal Mum
David Loftus

I had the good fortune to work with Richard Reynolds, aka The Guerrilla Gardener, on the Financial Times advertising account when he was just starting out, saving the world one dig at a time. One evening he invited myself and some other ad pals for dinner and made this. I think I ate three bowls. This is the recipe as I imagine it, though rather less sweet and nutty than the original. It’s a slow cooker stew so pop it in on Sunday, let it sit overnight in the fridge and it’ll be even better by Monday evening. It also freezes well.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
500g stewing or braising steak, cut into 3–4 cm chunks
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
3 medium onions, peeled and finely sliced
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
60ml white wine vinegar
40g honey
750ml water, boiling
1 beef stock cube, crumbled
150g raisins
100g flaked almonds
415g tinned figs, drained
or 150g dried figs, chopped


  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and brown the beef on all sides. Add the cinnamon, stir to mix and fry for 2 minutes. Spoon it all into your slow cooker or a casserole dish with a lid.
  2. Place the carrots, onions, pepper, vinegar and honey in with the beef. Make the stock by pouring the water over the stock cube and stir until dissolved. Add the stock to the beef and cook in the slow cooker on the low setting or in a 140°C oven for 6 hours. It’s ready when the beef easily falls apart.
  3. Ladle the stew into a container and add the raisins, flaked almonds and figs, give it a stir and leave overnight. Come the next night you’ll find the raisins have absorbed a lot of the liquid – simply reheat on the stove or in the microwave. I serve it with basmati rice or quinoa.
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