Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the sesame seeds on a small sheet pan or pie plate and toast in the oven 6 minutes, remove and place in small dish. Add the almonds to the pan until golden brown. Set aside. Put the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides in 2 batches, about 10 to 12 minutes total. Add the garlic, onions, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, and ground chilies to the lamb. Stir well and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 5 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender. It should be slightly springy, but easy to pull apart with your fingers. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Strain the liquid from the stew into a small saucepan or bowl and skim the fat. Check for salt and pepper and keep warm. Mix the meat and figs and spread in a single layer in an ovenproof serving dish. Pour the sauce over the meat and figs and sprinkle with almonds. Bake for 12 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped cilantro and garnish wiht cilantro springs. Serve from the hot dish.
Recipe courtesy of Matthew Kenney, author of "Mediterranean Cooking"
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