I found a post on Epicurious this morning that explains how you can make your own version of the North African spice blend called ras el hanout. Here's a link. The ingredients are all standard spices you can find nearly anywhere: cumin, ground ginger, salt, black pepper, cinnamon, ground coriander seeds, cayenne pepper, ground allspice, and ground cloves. You can customize the list and the blend as you see fit.
For the lamb and pumpkin tajine I made recently, the first step was to "marinate" the chunks of lamb in the spices. (By the way, I noticed a jar of ras el hanout among the spices at our local SuperU store the other day.) Use the spices as a dry rub on the meat before you brown it in olive oil in a hot frying pan or wok.
Then take the meat out of the pan, set it aside, and sauté some sliced onions and garlic in the same pan, along with a handful of raisins, in a little more oil as needed. When the onions have softened, put the meat back into the pan (or transfer everything to a tajine or other oven-proof dish). Add a cup or two of water or broth — just enough to barely cover the meat — and put the dish in a slow oven (160ºC or 325ºF) for an hour.
All that's left to do, after the pumpkin is glazed and the meat is cooked, is to put the pumpkin on top of the meat, put the lid back on, and let it all cook slowly for 15 or 20 more minutes. Stir it only gently so that you don't mush up the pumpkin too much.
This kind of recipe is infinitely adaptable. Use chunks of chicken or turkey or even veal instead of lamb. Soak some prunes or dried apricots in water while the meat is cooking and put them in the tajine in the place of the glazed pumpkin. (Turkey, duck, or veal will work very well with prunes.) Vary the spice blend. Add as much cayenne or other hot pepper as you like. Serve the tajine with couscous grain, rice, or millet.
This was the third in an uninterrupted series on the lamb and pumpkin tajine.