Lamb kofta, spiced roasted chickpeas, tahini yoghurt

What is it about food you have to use your hands for? Food that involves you putting it together, starting with a carb like wraps, tortillas, rice paper, pita or naan, then building a vessel of goodness.

My kids can’t get enough of it. I think it makes them feel some control over what they’re eating, even if I’ve made it.

I’ve had this hankering for weeks for middle eastern flavours – tahini, spices, pita – I think the need for freshness after weeks of alcohol, cream and ham.

There are components to this. I’m not sure it warrants a weeknight dinner option, except if you have willing kitchenhands, as I now do, someone can be making the yoghurt, someone the tomato and cucumber salad and someone prepping the chickpeas while you make the meatballs.

Many hands, light work, you know the drill.

I’ve given you the full gamut of spices I used tonight, but really, you could easily just run with cumin and coriander if your spice cupboard is not prolific.

The yoghurt tahini number was a complete revelation – straight from Smitten Kitchen I wouldn’t change a thing.

The chickpeas were inspired by her as well, but I ended up cooking them a little differently. When it came to putting them in the oven, I dumped them in the baking tray I’d cooked the lamb in, so it had meaty residue and juices. Not great if you’re a veggo but delicious otherwise and also – less washing up.

I served it all with a simple tomato and cucumber salad – diced quite small with a little red onion and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Lamb kofta
 
Middle Eastern flavours with lamb, spices, tahini, yoghurt, tomato and cucumber.
Author:
Serves: 40
Ingredients
Lamb kofta
  • 1kg lamb mince
  • 1tsp salt
  • ½tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½tsp ground allspice
  • ½tsp ground coriander
  • ¼tsp coarse cracked pepper
  • ¼tsp ground cumin
  • ¼tsp cayenne
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
Instructions
  1. Mix everything together thoroughly
  2. Roll into smallish balls, or really whatever size you want. I made them roughly walnut size and got 40 meatballs.
  3. Cook them however you want - on the bbq for about 8 minutes, in the oven at 200C for about 10-15mins (although i did this and they kinda went watering and weird not crispy and golden as I'd hoped), or in a frypan, which probably would have been the correct option for the result I wanted.

 
Yoghurt tahini dressing
 
Delicious dressing/dip for any savoury adventure really.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 6tbsp tahini
  • 4tbsp water
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • crushed garlic clove
  • 1 cup natural yoghurt
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Mix everything together until nice and smooth.

 
Spiced roasted chickpeas
 
Basically crack for those who like pulses and beans
Author:
Ingredients
  • Olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2tsp ground cumin
  • 2tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • zest from half a lemon
  • 4 cans of chickpeas (I did two chickpeas and two butter beans because that's what I had), liquid kept from one tin, the rest drained
  • (I don't add any salt because of the salt in the water from the tin, but feel free)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Saute the onions in the oil until softened
  3. Add the garlic, cook for a couple more minutes
  4. Add the spices and zest and cook for another minute
  5. Add the chickpeas and liquid from one of the tins
  6. Pour it into a baking tray, and roast for 30 minutes, giving it a stir/toss every so often (you really could forget about it and it would be fine)

 

Onward!

Old Fashioned Lamb Chop Casserole

So my mum used to cook. Then she got divorced, had to go back to work and basically raise two kids on her own so she stopped. It all happened around the time I discovered that I liked to cook, which was fortuitous. Even so, my mum doesn’t eat much – like pasta, tomatoes, chilli, anything with spices and so on and so forth.

That said, she makes a vegetable barley soup and a chop casserole I can never match.

But with a recent pocket of cooler weather I desperately needed a casserole, so attempt it I did. And lo, it came to pass that it was delicious.

Now the amounts below are, I confess, a bit of a guess. Casseroles are a moveable feast as far as I’m concerned, sometimes featuring a tin of tomatoes, sometimes some beer of some sort, sometimes mushrooms, you get the picture. So use the following as a lose guide rather than some ‘to be followed to the letter’. I’m just saying is all.

Lamb chop casserole

  • 6 – 8 lamb loin chops
  • a piled heap of plain flour
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 heaped tblsp tomato paste
  • glass of red (or white) wine
  • 1.5 litres of water or stock
  • 4 potatoes (depending on size) halved or quartered depending on size
  • 2 carrots, cut into chunks or thick fingers
  • handful or two of fresh herbs of choice, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C
  2. Season the plain flour with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  3. Heat the oil in a large frypan
  4. Dust the chops in the flour and sear in the frypan until you get good colour on them. Do this is batches and place the browned chops in a deep casserole dish as you go, throwing in some of the potatoes and carrots as you go
  5. Once all the chops are done, add a splash more oil and brown off the onion and garlic
  6. Pour the wine into the frypan and let it come to a rapid boil as you scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pan into the winey oniony garlicky juices
  7. Scatter over a good heaped tablespoon or two of the flour that you were using to coat the chops and cook off for a minute or two
  8. Then add the stock in batches, stirring madly as you do so it doesn’t go lumpy. Never fear if it does, I’ve been known to take the whole lumpy mess and dump it into a jug and then blitz with the stick blender, then pour back into the pan as if nothing ever happened.
  9. Somewhere in here add the tomato paste – sometimes I add it to the onions to cook it off a bit, sometimes I forget completely and just stir it in once I’ve got the gravy well underway
  10. Add the herbs and cook for a little while – the trick here is that you don’t want it too thick nor too runny. But you know what? So long as it tastes good, it doesn’t really matter.
  11. So, put the lid on, bang the whole thing in the oven and leave it there for at least two hours. The other day the one pictured above had almost four and the meat was just dissolving, which I find absolutely divine. In this instance I’d made a cartouche (sp?) of a piece of baking paper I had wet and scrunched up and then placed over the top of the casserole before putting the lid on. No idea if it made a difference but I felt fancy pants doing so.
  12. Serve with peas.
  13. This makes enough to feed an army.

Lebanese style peas and lamb

This is based on a Karen Martini recipe that featured recently in the Sun Herald’s Sunday Life magazine. I reckon you could double the amount of lamb mince and leave the rest of the recipe as is. Just depends on how many you’re feeding and how much you like peas. (I love peas with a passion that is completely misplaced on vegetables.) I also added in the carrots to get another vegetable into the family. I doubled the entire recipe and it made A LOT. I have tubs in the freezer now, which is not a bad thing but don’t say you weren’t warned.

Lebanese style peas and lamb

  • 100ml olive oil*
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 250g lamb mince
  • 2 carrots, cut into lengths
  • 2 tsp dried chilli (I left this out due to Oscar not being able to stomach chilli in any form)
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • sea salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 700ml water
  • 750g frozen peas
  • to serve: steamed rice, plain yoghurt, lemon juice and fresh mint, finely chopped
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add onion and garlic
  2. Add the lamb and brown
  3. Then add the carrots, spices and tomatoes
  4. Add the tomato paste, water and peas
  5. Cook for 20 minutes
  6. Serve with rice, yoghurt, squeeze over some lemon juice and sprinkle some fresh mint.

*I made it with 2 tsp of oil and it still tasted delicious. I will leave it to you and your waistline to decide which way you go.

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