Category: Main Dishes


BBQ Leg of Lamb with a Hibiscus Marinade

September 12th, 2014 — 3:41pm

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I have a Big Green Egg BBQ. I know. It’s okay, you can hate me. In all fairness, you should be grateful, actually. You heard. You should be grateful I haven’t been boasting about this for the past year because that’s just about the amount of time I’ve owned this piece of exceptional BBQ equipment. I’ve actually been very kind, if you think about it properly. I can contain it no longer, however: BGE’s are incredible. Everyone should sell an organ (might need two actually) in order to buy one.

Anyway, this recipe. I’m always seeing hibiscus flowers around Peckham but I’d never bought them. I knew that they’re used to flavour the ‘sorrel drink’ that one finds in Caribbean takeaways but…yeah that was the limit of my knowledge. They also love them in Mexico though I’ve since found out, which is where my flowers actually came from, brought back as a gift by a friend. Apparently they use them a lot more in cooking there, and also eat them candied as sweets.

The amount of flavour and shocking red colour that leaches from a handful of the dried flowers once soaked, is staggering. The flavour is a bit like red berries, with a tart, lemony edge and it occurred to me that this might work very well indeed with lamb.

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I steeped the flowers with an assortment of Mexican chillies: piquin (quite hot), guajillo (fruity), puya (similar to guajillo but hotter) and pasilla (literally: ‘little raisin’). Then I added garlic (because it’s lamb, and it’s the law) and bay. The resultant liquid was a frankly terrifying shade of red which stained the meat the colour of those curly pigs’ tails, tongues and penis shaped things (penises?) you see piled up in Brixton market. Thankfully, it was also extremely tasty: a sort of fruity, floral (yes I know), smoky thing going on.

I dunked the lamb into its bath for 24 hours, then drained it, rubbed the meat with more chillies and rammed with more garlic before cooking low and slow in the Egg. The marinade I reserved, reduced until syrupy and used for basting. That gave it a lovely sticky glaze. The leftovers were mixed with juices from the drip tray to serve at the table. We ate it in a sort of feverish caveman style, hunched over, fingers in, after-dark.

Oh and those things wrapped in foil around the outside of the lamb? Yeah they’re called ‘Death Star Onions’. They need work.

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BBQ Leg of Lamb in a Hibiscus Marinade

The idea here was to get a subtle flavour seeping in from the marinade, then add the rub for more of an aggressive ‘crust’ to form during the first part of cooking, then add the glaze after that. Seemed to work.

1 x 2kg bone-in leg of lamb

For the marinade and basting liquid

50g dried hibiscus flowers
2 bay leaves, torn in half
4 cloves garlic
A few peppercorns
1 dried guajillo chilli
1 teaspoon dried piquin chillies
1 dried puya chilli
1 dried pasilla chilli
100g golden caster sugar, plus 2 tablespoons

For the rub

1 dried guajillo chilli, de-seeded
1 teaspoon dried piquin chillies
1 dried puya chilli, de-seeded
1 dried pasilla chilli, de-seeded
2 tsp sea salt
10 black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic

In a saucepan, combine the hibiscus flowers with 1 litre of water, plus 2 cloves of garlic peeled and bashed a bit, the bay leaf, sugar and the chillies. Simmer this mixture for 5 minutes. Allow the marinade to cool then make slits all over the lamb, submerge it and refrigerate overnight. I had mine in there for 24 hours and I turned it once and basted it a few times.

When ready to cook the lamb, remove it from the marinade, pat dry, then strain the marinade into a bowl through a sieve. Add the extra sugar and reduce the marinade by about half until it starts to look thicker and more syrupy.

Prepare the BBQ. You want it at about 150C. You want to set up a drip pan too. This is going to be different depending on the type of BBQ you have.

Blitz the chillies, salt and peppercorns for the rub in a spice grinder. Rub this all over the lamb. Slice the 2 cloves of garlic and push the slices into the slits in the lamb.

Cook the lamb for about 2.5-3 hours until tender. After the first hour start basting it with the marinade mixture every 20 minutes or so. There will be marinade left over, so mix this with the lamb juices from the drip tray and serve at the table.

2 comments » | Barbecue, Big Green Egg, Main Dishes, Meat

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

July 23rd, 2014 — 1:59pm

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

Since returning from an Istanbul > Beirut > Istanbul jaunt way back in April, I’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of recipes I want to re-create. Despite writing about lahmacun, yoghurt with celeriac, liver and onions Turkish stylee, and Turkish lamb meatballs with rhubarb, I am in no way through dealing with Istanbul, and I’ve barely started on you, Beirut, posting only about the marvellous man’oushe.

This recipe was inspired by a restaurant in Istanbul that actually, we didn’t much like. I think that happened once in our entire trip. It’s in Beyoglu, which seems to be the trendy bit of Istanbul. It’s also the area I enjoyed the least. It felt a bit young and hip and I dunno, I guess I’m really not the latter, because it’s just not the kind of atmosphere I enjoy when I’m exploring a new city. Is that weird? Maybe that’s weird. It is? How dare you! I’m very cool, it’s just that a thousand spaghetti-strapped women and block print embellished denim-ed men leaning around in bars playing Europop isn’t my idea of a good time. That’s a really unfair picture of Beyoglu in general, but perfectly accurate when it comes to the surroundings of this restaurant. The staff thought they were THE SHIT, too, prancing around like the restaurant floor was a fashion show or something. Totally aware that’s the kind of thing my mum said when I asked if I could have those high-heeled patent sling backs for my first year at Big School, but anyway.

They did one good thing, and that was to introduce us to adana kebabs rolled up into cigar shapes inside very thin bread. This is brilliant because you get the contrast between crisp bread and soft meat, but also because all the juiciness from the lamb soaks into the bread. This one dish made the whole sorry experience worthwhile. There’s also the opportunity to roll all sorts of other goodies inside with the meat of course, which I duly did…ranging from yoghurt, to feta, to spring onions. There was something else too but I’m not prepared to admit it.

It took a bit of experimenting to get the recipe right. Although the meat remained moist (there is a shit load of lovely fatty lamb in there after all…) they just weren’t QUITE juicy enough, so in the end I decided to cook the kebabs, before spreading the bread (lavash, by the way, it’s appropriately thin) very sparsely with some of the meat mixture, plonking the ‘bab onto it, rolling up, then commencing crisping. It does weird you out a bit, putting cooked meat on top of  raw, but it’s only for a moment and anyway, just get on with it.

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

The other major change I’ve made with my adana is to add some Georgian ajika paste so this is a little bit fusion I suppose but come on, Turkey and Georgia are bordering countries. Ajika is a rather fierce chilli paste, which some dunce rather dopily describes on Wikipedia as ‘vindaloo strength’. It’s pretty hot, basically, but with an incredible flavour. It’s a magic ingredient, the kind of thing you end up chucking into all sorts of dishes. I’ll post my own recipe for it here soon.

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls (makes about 6 kebabs, depending on size obviously)

400g fatty lamb mince, 150g lean lamb mince (such as neck)
1/2 onion
1/2 red pepper
1 tablespoon ajika paste
2 cloves garlic
Few pinches salt
Lavash bread
Yoghurt (optional)
Feta (optional)
Spring onions, finely sliced (optional)

Blitz the lean mince into a blender with the onion, pepper, ajika and garlic. Add the fatty mince. Season highly with salt and give the meat a really good mix, kneading it with your hands almost like bread for a few minutes. Refrigerate for an hour or so if you can before shaping onto soaked wooden skewers (the kebabs will be easier to turn if you use two per kebab), then refrigerate again. Reserve about a tablespoon of meat per kebab, for smearing on the flatbreads later.

When ready to cook, prep your BBQ, and when the coals are covered in white ash, sling those ‘babs on, they won’t take long – 5 mins each side. Don’t try to turn them until they’ve built up a crust or else they wills stick. Cut a piece of lavash large enough to encase each kebab (remember you’re rolling it up), smear this with a tablespoon of the reserved meat, then plonk your cooked ‘bab on top and add any cheese, yoghurt, spring onions you fancy and roll it up. Slap back onto the grill until crisp on each side.

I like to serve these with extra garlic yoghurt and huge plates of herbs.

10 comments » | Barbecue, Bread, Cheese, Istanbul, Main Dishes, Meat

Turkish Lamb Meatballs with Rhubarb

May 12th, 2014 — 1:27pm

Turkish Lamb Meatballs with Rhubarb

Istanbul spans two continents, separated by the blustery Bosphorus. I’m sure you knew that already. Apparently tourists are often reluctant to cross over from the European to the Asian side, which is weird, because you can do it on a boat, and boat rides are fun. Also, why on earth would you miss an opportunity to travel between continents in the space of half an hour-ish? I think I possibly liked the Asian side even more than the European, actually. Or maybe I liked them the same. Or perhaps I liked the European more. Argh! It’s such an exciting city.

Anyway this recipe was inspired by a restaurant on the Asian side called Çiya which, like Çukur Meyhane, had a few dishes on the menu that jumped out at me as being things I absolutely had to eat or else something terrible would happen. There are three branches of Çiya, and to quote Rebecca Seal who kindly gave me lots of excellent recommendations, including this one, “you want the one that does more than just kebabs”. We sat outside, blinking in the high, bright sunshine on a wobbly table set on a steep cobbled street. Service is rapid and brusque; before we knew it silver dishes clattered onto the table, edges glinting like knives. The mezze appear to be self served from a buffet inside the restaurant, which I didn’t realise until we’d eaten our main courses. No booze either but it was worth the visit for this dish alone – rich, sweet meatballs, cooked with soft, gently acidic plums.

Ciya Meatballs with Plums

Original dish with plums at Çiya, Istanbul

I wanted to re-create the dish and rhubarb seemed like an interesting seasonal variation. It was awesome. Yes, I say so myself.  The meatballs are rich with Turkish chilli paste, which turns the oil bright amber as they cook, and those Turkish chilli flakes so small and dark they look like slate chippings. The sauce is heady, sweet and sour with pomegranate molasses and of course, the rhubarb.

Turkish Lamb Meatballs with Rhubarb

Meatballs

This was perfect served with saffron rice and a dollop of yoghurt. The only thing missing was the sun (pissing rain outside, naturally) and the opportunity to amble over to the bar opposite for a cheeky raki and a tooth-achingly sweet noodle dish with cheese in the middle.

Turkish Lamb Meatballs with Rhubarb (makes 25 meatballs)

500g minced lamb (not too lean)
1 smallish onion, very finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Generous tablespoon Turkish pepper paste, plus a bit for luck
2 teaspoons Turkish chilli (dark)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 slice bread soaked with water until completely wet, then excess water squeezed out

Oil and butter, for frying

For the sauce

2 sticks rhubarb (approx 300g)
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
2 cardamom pods
Generous splash white wine
1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
Pistachios, to garnish (optional)

Greek yoghurt, to serve

Make the meatballs by combining the lamb mince, onion, garlic, Turkish pepper paste, Turkish chilli, cinnamon, bread and some salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix really well using your hands, then shape into 25 balls. In a frying pan, heat a splash of oil and knob of butter. Fry the balls in batches, about 5 or 6 at a time, until browned, then set aside. Drain the fat off into a bowl but keep it set aside.

De-glaze the pan with a good glug of the wine. Add the rhubarb, cardamom pods (crush them a bit), pomegranate molasses, sugar and some salt. Add a generous splash of water, bring to a simmer, put the lid on and cook for 10 minutes. Return the meatballs to the pan with some of the drained fat, and cook for a further 10 minutes with the lid on. Serve with bread or rice and yoghurt.

Istanbul Cat

Istanbul cat picture…seems to have become standard practice

18 comments » | Fruit, Istanbul, Main Dishes, Meat

Kookoo Sabzi

March 6th, 2014 — 6:22pm

Kookoo sabzi is basically an Iranian omelette with a whacking great load of herbs in it. I became rather attached to it as a weekend breakfast option a year or so back and it’s really very good in a sandwich too, just wrapped in warmed flatbread with some slivered pickles and a splutter of hot sauce (there’s a recipe for that sandwich in a very good book about sandwiches from around the world I’ve heard mentioned somewhere occasionally perhaps maybe).

Kookoo sabzi flatbread wrap with Iranian pickles and hot sauce

Anyway on Tuesday it was the day of the pancakes and so I found myself wondering what a load of skinny kookoos would be like rolled up around a stuffing and baked in a cheesy sauce. They were very easy to make and flip in a little non-stick pan, and I filled them with what was basically a mixture of posho garlic shrooms (chanterelles and chestnuts) and spinach, and baked them in a sauce rammed with cheddar and Lancashire cheeses (what I had in the fridge). Oh and I grated some rather suave aged Comte on top, because I also had that in the fridge, because I’m a member of the Food Tosserati.

The kookoo made this whole dish really pleasing because they’re just so fragrant with herbs and bitey with spring onion; they lift the whole thing meaning you can eat a large amount and not feel in danger of developing diabetic neuropathy the instant you stop eating and slump on the sofa in front of The Restaurant Man. Come to think of it, a gluten free cheese sauce would also make this a good alternative for coeliacs in danger of missing out on cheesy baked pancake things come Fat Tuesday.

Diet food

Kookoo sabzi stuffed with garlic mushrooms and baked in a cheesy…okay I don’t know what to call this but it’s well tasty, promise. 

For the pancakes (makes approx 10 pancakes)

12 eggs
3 tablespoons self raising flour
1 large handful parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 large handful dill, finely chopped
1 large handful coriander, finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped

For the filling

100g chanterelle mushrooms
200g chestnut mushrooms
1 regular onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
350g spinach, chopped roughly if leaves are large (include the stalks, finely chopped)
Knob of butter
Veg oil or similar, for frying

120g cheese, grated (I used a mixture of cheddar and Lancashire)
Comte (or another cheese, obviously, to grate on top)
50g butter
50g flour
600ml milk

This method looks long and it is really, but you can get most of it going at the same time.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200C/400F.

Beat the eggs together and sift in the flour. Whisk the mixture to combine; it will go lumpy which is annoying but just whisk the shit out of it. Mix in the chopped herbs, spring onions, and season highly with salt and pepper.

Set a small frying pan (mine is 6 inches diameter) over a medium-low heat and add a scant splash of oil, then wipe it around with a piece of kitchen paper. Add enough eggy mixture to make a very thin ‘pancake’, spreading it out with the back of a spoon. Cook until almost set (it’s so thin it will cook almost all the way through without turning), then, when almost set, flip it over for 30 seconds or so to set the other side. This is about a hundred times easier than it sounds. Repeat until all the mixture is gone.

Once the first pancake is out of the way, you can get the filling on at the same time. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and sling the onion in to soften. Once translucent, add a knob of butter and the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring regularly. Set aside, then add the spinach to the same pan and allow to wilt down and cook until no liquid remains in the pan. Mix with the mushrooms. Season.

To make the cheese sauce, wang the flour, butter and milk into a pan and bring to a simmer, whisking it with an air of nonchalance. Once simmering, cook out gently for a few minutes, then add the cheese. It will melt pretty fast. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble your masterpiece, roll each pancake around some of the filling (not too much). Line them up in a baking dish. Cover with the sauce. Grate a little Comte on top. Put in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden.

10 comments » | Breakfast, Brunch, Cheese, Eggs, Main Dishes, Sandwiches

Poussin with Pomegranate Molasses, Turkish Chilli & Rose

July 30th, 2013 — 1:33pm

I do love the word ‘spatchcock’. Oh come on. Aside from the juvenile pleasure, the giggles and unnecessary emphasis, it’s just such a satisfying word to say. Go on, say it. Say it out loud like you mean it.

It’s also, handily, a very useful and easy way of prepping a bird in order to ensure even cooking, particularly on the BBQ. I’m sure you already know this, but I had to say something useful and serious, otherwise this is just a post about a word that sounds funny. Here’s a vid if you’re not familiar with how to do it.

I made these three times before I was happy with the marinade. The first time – too orangey, the second time – too meh, the third time however…well if I hadn’t nailed it the third time I would have been worried. Pomegranate molasses makes a wonderfully sticky marinade with its exotic sweet and sour flavour, there’s orange juice too and then plenty of BOOM! spicing in the form of Turkish chilli flakes and cumin. I also used dried rose petals, which have always baffled me. In the bag they just smell kinda dusty. I didn’t get it. When ground up however, they did add a nice floral (duh) flavour, which I’d originally tried to achieve with orange blossom water (didn’t work – just tasted like bubble gum).

These were fabulous served with some grilled spring onions – just oil and sling ‘em on the grill. A cucumber salad was refreshing, made with spring onions, parsley and sour cream. Oh and there was leftover dirty BBQ veg on the side.

The way to get the poussin tasting really good is to reserve half the marinade and brush it on as they are cooking. This makes sure you get plenty of that flavour on there, without it all slipping off a la marinade. Sticky, sweet, charred, spicy. Incredibly good, actually.

Pomegranate Molasses and Turkish Chilli Poussin (serves 2)

2 poussins, spatchcocked

For the marinade:

4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons Turkish chilli flakes
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried rose petals
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (use a good one)
Juice of 1/2 small orange
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
Splash of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Bash up the cumin seeds with the rose petals until you have something resembling a powder, then mix with all the other marinade ingredients. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cover the poussin with half the marinade, reserving the rest for brushing on top during cooking.

Cook on the BBQ until, well, cooked (depends on the size of your poussin really – mine took about 20 minutes), turning and brushing regularly with the marinade.

26 comments » | Barbecue, Main Dishes, Meat

Tacos: BBQ Onglet with Scotch Bonnet, Grapefruit & Mango

July 23rd, 2013 — 1:50pm

Onglet, or skirt steak, is a great cut of beef to cook on the BBQ; it has so much flavour and just needs a really quick grilling over high heat. Over cook it and you’ll find dinner now has the texture of a flip flop, but get it right and you’ll cut into juicy meat with a texture like butter. I gave it a bathing in a spicy, fruit based marinade which was pretty damn fine when slung into tacos. Here’s what to do:

1. Meet @markymarket at Chancery Lane tube to take receipt of a kg of onglet. You can’t miss him – he’ll stick out like a sore thumb wearing a white butcher’s coat and lugging a cool box. Contact him via his website or Twitter to place an order.

2. Gather some mates together for a hot and sticky summer evening BBQ. They will bring loads of interesting wine because they are ace.

3. Make the fruit marinade. I was originally going to use papaya; a great meat tenderiser. I didn’t though because I didn’t have one and also, papayas are expensive. SO expensive. What I did have was 1 very ripe mango and 3 apricots, the flesh of which was whizzed with grapefruit juice, garlic and scotch bonnet chilli. This makes a great table sauce too, so reserve some for later. Pour the sauce over the onglet and marinate for an hour. It will look like it’s covered in sick. It isn’t; that’s your delicious mango sauce, silly.

4. Grill the meat. Rest the meat. Slice the meat. Eat the meat. We piled it into tacos and topped with guacamole, salsa, and onions quick pickled in lime and orange juice.

A dollop of that mango sauce on top is most excellent, too…

Mango and Scotch Bonnet Marinated Onglet (Tacos) (serves 4)

1 kg onglet (skirt steak)

For the marinade:

4 cloves garlic, peeled
Flesh of 1 ripe mango
Flesh of 3 apricots
Juice of 1 grapefruit
1 scotch bonnet chilli, deseeded or not is up to you
Splash olive oil
Salt and pepper

Get the onglet out of the fridge about 2 hours before you want to cook it. Whizz all the marinade ingredients in a blender and pour 3/4 over the onglet, reserving the other 1/4 for serving. Light your BBQ and wait until the flames have died down and the coals are nice and grey/white all over, you want the BBQ as hot as possible and that doesn’t mean flames. By which point your onglet should be ready.

Brush off excess marinade and season well on both sides with salt and pepper. Grill for 2 minutes, then flip and grill a further 2 minutes. Repeat this – so a further 2 minutes each side. This should give you pretty rare steak, but of course it depends on the thickness (you could also brush a little of the reserved marinade on while cooking, if you like. Don’t double dip the brush into the sauce you’re going to serve at the table, though). Let the meat rest for 10 minutes while you get everything else ready, then slice and serve with extras below.

For the guacamole:

I steal a trick from Thomasina Miers here and bash up a little onion and chilli first in the pestle and mortar, as well as mixing some in, which gives a really nice overall savoury flavour. Mix with the flesh of 2 avocados (roughly mashed, you want some texture), juice of 1-2 limes and a little more finely chopped onion and chilli. Finish with salt, pepper and coriander.

For the salsa:

Make a basic tomato salsa by seeding and finely chopping really ripe tomatoes, about 6, and mixing with half a small finely chopped red onion, a squeeze of lime juice, small handful chopped coriander leaves, and salt and pepper.

For the pickled onions:

Another trick nicked from Thomasina Miers, whose book ‘Mexican Cooking Made Simple’ is actually really bloody good. Cover finely sliced red onions with boiling water for ten minutes then drain. Squeeze in lime and orange juice, plus a finely chopped scotch bonnet chilli. Leave for a couple of hours. Makes a great condiment on loads of things, actually.

Tortilla/taco note: I have been e-mailed by a reader who pointed out I have ‘misrepresented’ tacos as I have actually used tortillas. Fact is, tacos are impossible to get hold of for me and also, I don’t like them. Too tough. So yes, I used tortillas and cut taco shapes from them. Apologies if this has offended anyone else. 

 

17 comments » | Barbecue, Main Dishes, Meat, Mexican Food

Lamb and Date Meatballs in Frazzled Aubergine Sauce – Win a £50 Le Creuset Voucher

May 13th, 2013 — 1:33pm

[Edit] I WON! Thanks so much to everyone who voted. 

‘Frazzled’ aubergines? Okay, so I’m definitely not talking about aubergines cooked alongside the popular, bacon rasher-shaped potato snacks.

I sense your relief.

The idea of ‘burnt’ aubergines may be more familiar; popularised recently by chefs like Ottolenghi, it’s actually an age-old cooking technique. I prefer to call them frazzled. It’s just…well, it’s just a lovely word.

Shiny purple fruits are placed over a naked flame, roasted or grilled until skins blacken and they collapse inward on themselves with a steamy sigh. Once cooled and split, the inside is silken, and above all gloriously smoky; a total transformation. It is this creamy flesh that blends into magical dips such as baba ghanoush, but I like to use it as a base for a sauce. It seems very decadent somehow; almost fit for a feast.

The meatballs bobbing within are made with lamb, sweet nubs of date and warming cumin and chilli. I’ve nicked a trick from the Italians too and mixed in some breadcrumbs soaked in milk – just a little – the difference in texture is astounding. They become light and – dangerously – extremely easy to eat. A swirl of yoghurt and a few jewels of pomegranate make this dish really rather pretty. Serve with cous cous or bread to absorb the luxurious sauce.

I came up with this recipe as for the Le Creuset ‘Cast Iron Challenge’, so if you think this sounds a bit tasty, please vote for my recipe on twitter (using ‘I’m voting for @FoodStories in the (@McArthurGlenUK #LeCreuset #CastIronChallenge http://goo.gl/EM7fD), and you could win a Le Creuset voucher worth £50!! That’s pretty awesome.

Lamb and Date Meatballs in Frazzled Aubergine Sauce

500g minced lamb
4 dates, pitted and finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 heaped teaspoon hot chilli flakes, or to taste
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 thick slice white bread
Milk (about 4 tablespoons)

For the sauce

4 aubergines
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 400g regular tin chopped tomatoes
2 black cardamom
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 cinnamon stick
300ml vegetable stock

Vegetable oil, for frying

Pierce the aubergines in several places with a fork, then place directly on the gas ring of the hob, turning occasionally, until black and shrivelled all over. Alternatively, grill them to the same effect.

Remove the crusts from the slice of bread and break into rough pieces. Place in a small bowl with enough milk to mash to a paste.

In a small frying pan, toast the cumin and coriander seeds over a low heat, stirring frequently, until they start to smell fragrant. Take care not to burn them. Grind them in a spice grinder or crush them in a pestle and mortar.

In a large bowl combine the minced lamb, bread paste, ground cumin and coriander, chilli flakes, chopped dates and mint. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well; really , really well. Get in there with your hands and knead the mixture almost like a bread dough. Make sure the dates are well distributed. Roll into walnut sized balls. Set aside on a plate.

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in the Le Creuset, and fry the meatballs in batches, 4 or 5 at a time, until golden brown all over. Set each batch aside while you cook the next.

To make the sauce, scrape the flesh from inside the aubergines, leaving behind the blackened skin. Chop roughly. Fry the onion until , cardamom pods and cinnamon stick until the onions are soft and beginning to colour. Scrape up the lovely meaty residues from the pan as you do this. Add the aubergines and garlic. Turn up the heat a little and Cook for about five minutes more stirring.

Add the tomatoes, pomegranate molasses and stock. Put lid on and cook for 45 mins to an hour on low heat. Taste and season. For a thicker sauce, remove the lid towards the end of cooking time to reduce it. Add back the meatballs to heat through.

Scatter with pomegranate seeds and coriander to serve.

25 comments » | Competitions, Main Dishes, Meat

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