“This middle-eastern inspired feast is the perfect way to feed a group, and makes a great alternative to a Sunday roast. Don’t let the name fool you – the lamb is melt-in-your-mouth soft, and infused with the flavours of citrus and middle-eastern spices. The Tabbouleh is given extra depth by the sweet, semi-dried tomatoes and the walnut and yoghurt sauce is both cool and tart.
Even though the lamb requires preparation in advance, it’s actually a very easy dish to throw together – though your guests will never know that! Honestly, it’s all the fanfare of a Sunday roast with half the washing up. If that’s not enough to convince you, I don’t know what is.”
Prep time: 40 mins (Plus time to marinate)
Cooking time: 4 hours
Ingredients – Lamb:
1kg deboned butterflied lamb shoulder
2 tsp cumin seed
2 tsp coriander seed
2 tbsp sumac
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek seed
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
4 garlic cloves crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
Ingredients – Oven-dried tomato Tabbouleh:
250g cherry tomatoes
150g whole grain quinoa
30g flat leaf parsley
30g fresh mint
50g pomegranate seeds
50g toasted flaked almonds
Ingredients – Roasted Aubergine:
2 medium aubergines
Ingredients – Walnut and Yoghurt Sauce:
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
Method – The lamb:
The first step is to marinate the lamb, giving it time to soak up the tangy spice mix. Ideally, this should be done in the fridge overnight, but as a worst case you can cook straight away with acceptable (and still very tasty) results. As a rule of thumb, the longer you’re able to marinate the lamb, the tastier it will be.
To make the spice mix, de-seed enough cardamom pods to give you ½ tsp of seeds. Put them into a pestle and mortar with the coriander and cumin seeds and grind coarsely. Thow the ground seeds into a bowl with the other spices and add the lemon zest. Add the garlic and olive oil and mix everything together.
Take the lamb and score all over to give the spices somewhere to penetrate. Rub the spice mix all over the lamb and leave in the fridge overnight if you have time. To cook the lamb, preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan. Place the lamb on a wire rack above a roasting tray filled with an inch of water and cook for around 4 hours. Check the roasting tray every now and keep topped up with water.
Now’s a good time to skip ahead and start on the Aubergine.
After 4 hours a blackened crust should have formed on the lamb’s topside – don’t worry, I promise the meat underneath will be mouth-wateringly soft. Remove from the oven and gently knock off any large chunks of blackened spice mix. Cover with foil and leave to rest for five minutes. Cut the lamb into thick slices – it should be so soft that it comes away easily.
Method – Roasted Aubergine:
Cut the aubergines into 2cm thick slices, discarding the ends. Pat the slices dry with kitchen towel and line two trays with baking parchment. Lay out the slices on each tray and brush the upper sides with oil. Season well with sea salt and cracked black pepper and cook for 30 mins. After 30 minutes, turn the slices over and repeat the process of oiling and seasoning and cook for further 30 minutes. When they’re cooked, remove from the oven and transfer all of the slices to one of the trays, leaving the other one free to dry the tomatoes.
Method – Oven-Dried Tomato Tabbouleh:
Turn the oven down to 170C/150C fan.
To make the semi dried tomatoes, slice them in half and lay them out cut-side up on the empty tray. Sprinkle each tomato half with sea salt and black pepper and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. The tomatoes should have shrunk to half their original size and become wrinkled and crispy around the edges.
To prepare the quinoa, first thoroughly rinse the grains in a sieve under a cold tap. Next, transfer them to a saucepan and add 225ml of cold water. Bring to the boil and turn down to a low heat. Place a lid on the pan and leave to cook until all of the water has been absorbed.
Chop up the mint and parsley and combine with the quinoa and tomatoes. Put into a serving bowl and scatter over the almonds and pomegranate seeds.
Method – Walnut and Yoghurt Sauce:
Put the walnuts into a food mixer and blitz into a rough paste. Add the other ingredients and give it another good whizz. If it’s too thick, add a little cold water to loosen. Transfer into a bowl and serve alongside the lamb.
Lay everything out on the table and let your guests tuck in. It’s also great served alongside flat breads If you have some particularly hungry guests.