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.
Serves: 40
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
  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.
  • 6tbsp tahini
  • 4tbsp water
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • crushed garlic clove
  • 1 cup natural yoghurt
  • pinch of salt
  1. Mix everything together until nice and smooth.

Spiced roasted chickpeas
Basically crack for those who like pulses and beans
  • 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)
  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)



Every fucking night

Lamb with cous cous, slow roasted tomatoes, cucumber and Persian feta

Slow roasted lamb with rosemary, lemon and anchovies

I have a penchant for slow roasted lamb and my seven hour lamb recipe is the most popular page on this whole blog. I know! I was sure those posts about depression, anxiety, giving birth and breast feeding would hit the high hit market and bring me the big bucks. Now I just feel cheap and used.


So, lamb. This was inspired by Chocolate and Zucchini’s slow roasted lamb shoulder. I have kept the quantities pretty vague as it depends on the size of your leg and it really is pretty flexible – add more rosemary if you like it, more garlic if it’s your thing, go without the garlic if you feel like it. I will say though, don’t, just don’t omit the anchovies. I know I know, lots of people ‘hate the anchovy’ but in this you certainly don’t taste anything remotely like it but it adds a complex saltiness that is incredibly moreish. So look, just relax and go with it. It is an absolute sensation.

Slow roasted lamb with rosemary, lemon and anchovies

  • 1-2 large sprigs of rosemary
  • rind from 1-2 lemons (peeled thinly using a vegetable peeler)
  • 10 anchovy fillets
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons whole mustard seeds (I’ve used wholegrain mustard before and it works a treat)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • A good splash of balsamic vinegar
  • An equally good splash of olive oil
  • 2-2.5kg leg of lamb or lamb shoulder
  • white wine
  • stock
  • 2 onions
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 stick celery
  1. Put everything except the lamb (obviously) in a mortar and pestle and pound the absolute crap out of it.
  2. No really, you want it all reduced to a paste so don’t use one of those pissy little useless ones.
  3. OK, use a blender if you must but you get a much nicer texture if you put a bit of elbow grease into it.
  4. Rub the paste all over the lamb and let it marinade for as long as you can
  5. Preheat the oven to 220C and bring the lamb to room temperature
  6. In a baking dish place the roughly cut up onions, carrots and celery and then put the lamb on top of it
  7. Pour a couple of glasses of wine and stock into the base of the baking dish
  8. Roast at 220C for 30 minutes
  9. Turn the meat and turn the temperature down to 120C (or a smidge higher if your oven isn’t fan-forced)
  10. Cook for 2.5hours, turning the meat every half hour or so
  11. If your baking dish starts to dry out then add some more stock (mine does this as it’s a hot fast oven and I always forget to turn it down low enough due to pathetic obsessive tendencies of thinking it won’t cook in time)
  12. If it’s browning too quickly cover with some foil
  13. Once it’s cooked remove from pan, cover and set aside.
  14. Tip everything in the pan into a sieve and using the back of a large spoon or ladle push all those beautiful juices through, discard the pulp, return to the stove and add a little more stock if it needs thinning out.
It doesn’t get much better than that.

Shepherd’s Pie

When I was little Shepherd’s Pie was for dinner the night after we’d had a roast leg of  lamb as sure as the sun would rise. Mum had a mincer that attached to her Sunbeam mixer and the lamb, onion and carrot would all go through it.

I can’t say that I remember it that fondly but I do remember the ritual of it – the fascination with this scary looking mincer, the mash on top peaked by the prongs of a fork and the slathering the whole thing with tomato sauce.

I don’t have a mincer and finely chopping it by hand is not the same. And I was never able to bring myself to make it with mince until I saw this Terry Durack recipe for it in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Weekend magazine a few months back (It was part of his spread for an Easter lunch or something like that.) Terry’s had 200g of mixed mushrooms in it but I have a boy and a mother who don’t eat mushrooms so I just ditch those and cook it a little longer so the sauce isn’t too runny. Also, I have a mother (the same one in fact) who doesn’t like tomatoes, so while Terry’s calls for a 400g can of chopped tomatoes I just put a couple of cherry tomatoes or baby Roma tomatoes or two normal toms diced.

All that considered, it’s an absolute winner.

Shepherd’s Pie
Adapted from Terry Durack, Good Weekend magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped (I never have celery in the house so have made this more times w/out than with)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 500-600g lamb mince
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 125ml red wine
  • 300ml stock
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tomatoes, diced (or about 1/2 dozen cherry toms)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme (which I hate so I use parsley instead)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 800g potatoes
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100ml milk
  • 3 tbsp parmesan
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

  1. Heat a little oil in a large pan and fry the onion, carrot and celery until nice and soft
  2. Add the garlic and cook off a little
  3. Add the lamb and cook for a few minutes, breaking up the meat so you don’t get any of those manky big lumps of mince (gag)
  4. Sprinkle over the flour and cook, stirring, for a minute or two 
  5. Add the wine, bring to the boil (whenever I add it it kinda gets absorbed straight away so I just cook it out for a little)
  6. Then add the stock, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, tomato paste and herbs
  7. Season and simmer for about 40 minutes until nice and thick
  8. While that’s simmering boil the potatoes until soft, about 15 mintues
  9. Drain and mash, then beat in the butter, egg yolk, milk, parmesan and the green onions
  10. Preheat oven to 180C
  11. Pour the meat into a baking dish, top with the potato, rake over with a fork and scatter over some more knobs of butter
  12. Bake for 30 minutes or until the meat is bubbling and the potato topping is nice and golden.  
  13. Spread potato on top of the meat     

Four Hour Olive and Lemon Scented Leg of Lamb

I really like Matthew Evans. He had the unenviable task of taking up the mantle of restaurant reviewer for the SMH’s Good Living following Terry Durack and well, one of the few reviewers I love more than Matthew would be Terry. I still make Terry’s White Cut Chicken recipe w/ dipping sauce from his book Yum years after I first tried it and every mag has run a recipe for it a hundred times since. See, I’m extending my sentences to a point it’s unbearable even for me.

Anyway, Matthew has a column in the SMH’s Good Weekend magazine each Saturday and well, it is always so much more accessible and indeed tantalising than the fancy double paged food spread that lies before it.

This is one of his recipes from that publication. I think it ran last year but it could even have been from a year before that. Anyway, it is sensational and a great dinner for winter on those days you’ve got kids at various activities after school and need dinner the minute you walk in the door. He also suggests you can smear the lambe with the olive and garlic paste and roast for an hour instead, but I like the idea of getting it on mid afternoon and it looking after itself for a couple of hours.

Four Hour Olive and Lemon Scented Leg of Lamb
Matthew Evans, Any fool can cook column, Good Weekend, The Sydney Morning Herald

  • 1 medium sized leg of lamb
  • about 10 fleshy black olives, pitted
  • about 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3-4 slices of lemon
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper
  1. Take the lamb out of the fridge about half an hour before it needs to go into the oven
  2. Preheat oven to 150C
  3. Blend or pound the olives with the garlic until a coarse paste is formed
  4. Smear the paste all over the lamb, particularly the fleshy bit that will face upwards
  5. Place in a large sealable pot (or a tray and foil) and lay the lemon slices and bay leaves on the lamb
  6. Put the onion, red wine and water in the base and season – go easy on the salt due to the olives
  7. Put the lid on, pop in the oven, turning it down to 110C and cook for 3 to 4 hours
  8. Check it every now and then to ensure the pot hasn’t dried out (it shouldn’t but if it does add a little more water)
  9. Serve with baked potatoes and veggies.