Lamb Shawarma

Lamb Shawarma is a spicy barbequed lamb. It is best eaten cut into slices or small pieces with pitta bread, salads and yoghurt.  Make this with a butterflied leg of lamb. It’s fantastic.
This dish is good because you can prep the lamb in advance and have it marinading for a couple of hours. The lamb cooks on the BBQ with little supervision (as long as you have the temperature right) and delicious smells tempt your guests. While the lamb rests you can roll out your pitta bread dough and cook the fresh pitta breads on the BBQ after the lamb. By the time you sit the salads on the table, it’s time to serve the lamb. It’s a great sharing meal.
After marinating I cook it opened out on the barbecue. It only takes about 20 minutes to cook at a medium heat, depending on your bbq size. I use a temperature probe to ensure it is cooked to my taste, which is caramelised tasty outside with a pink inside on the thicker sections. You must rest it after cooking for about 20 minutes somewhere lukewarm to get the best result.
It’s hard to go wrong with this if you serve it with Lebanese style salads, yoghurt, tahini and some homemade pitta bread.

Ingredients

Dry

  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 5 cloves
  • ½ tsp cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 star anise
  • ½ a cinnamon stick
  • ½ a nutmeg, grated
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • ¾ tbsp Maldon sea salt

Wet

  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 40g chopped coriander, stems and leaves
  • 60ml lemon juice
  • 120ml groundnut oil
  • 1 leg of lamb butterflied with the bone removed

Method

  1. Grind and mix the dry ingredients together.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients together and add to the dry.
  3. Rub over the lamb and leave to marinade for up to 24 hours.
  4. Cook the leg on a hot BBQ at a medium heat for 20-30 minutes.
Once the lamb shawarma is cooked sit it somewhere warm to rest before slicing up thin enough to put in pittas.
Stuff chunks of the lamb shawarma into pitta bread with yoghurt and salads.

Harissa Lamb Meatballs

These tasty harissa lamb meatballs are easily prepared in advance and can be reheated after cooking. Make it spicy or not, as you prefer, by adjusting or omitting the harissa.
You don’t need to have Rose Harissa, ordinary Harissa is fine. Or even just a pinch or two of chilli powder.

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 500g minced lamb
  • 1 white onion finely grated (I usually blitz with the food processor)
  • 4 tbsp white breadcrumbs
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1-2 tsp rose harissa to taste
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper

Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp (or less if you prefer) Rose Harissa
  • Some thyme sprigs
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to season
  • Flat leaf parsley, chopped and added at the end to serve

Method

  1. First, make the meatballs as these need to chill to keep their shape
  2. Add all the meatball ingredients to a bowl and mix with your hands till well mixed
  3. Now make golf ball sized meatballs and rest them in the fridge for about an hour.
  4. Make the sauce in a suitable pan.
  5. Cook off the onion till soft and translucent, probably taking about 15 minutes
  6. Add the garlic and harissa and cook these gently for a minute or two
  7. Add the everything else except the parsley and bring to a gentle simmer
  8. When the meatballs are ready you can either simmer them gently for 45-60 minutes in the sauce or put them in the oven in a suitable casserole for about the same time at say 160C fan.
  9. Stir in the chopped parsley just before serving
Serve the harissa lamb meatballs with couscous, salad or pitta bread. Some yoghurt on the side can be a nice cooling element.

I’ve made these a day in advance and just reheated them for 30-40 minutes in a low oven. Works very well.

Lamb Scottadito

These are little barbequed lamb chops designed to be eaten with your hands. Known as lamb scottadito in Italian cookery, this is a brilliant way to speed up the cooking of lamb cutlets. Kids love them prepared like this because you can pick them up with your fingers (scottadito refers to burning your fingers in your rush to eat.) Best cooked on a barbecue.
Salsa verde is a lovely sauce to go with the cutlets, this quantity probably does 8-9 cutlets.  You probably want 3 cutlets per person. Increase the salsa verde quantities for more servings.

Ingredients

  • A rack of lamb (or more then one if you need), French trimmed – which just means with the bones stripped and cleanly showing
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
For the salsa verde
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil
  • 1 tbsp small capers in vinegar, or salted – rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1 anchovy fillet (packed in oil), drained and finely chopped
  • ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Make the salsa verde, mix together all the chopped ingredients in a bowl, then add the mustard and olive oil, stir well to amalgamate. Check and adjust the seasoning. Set aside at room temperature while you prepare the lamb.
  2. Cut the rack of lamb into individual cutlets.
  3. Now beat them out slightly before cooking. Put each one on a chopping board and lay a sheet of clingfilm on top. Using a rolling pin, or the flat part of a heavy knife or cleaver, gently hit the meaty part so it flattens to half the original thickness and spreads to twice the width.
  4. Cook on a barbecue or a ridged griddle pan. Brush both sides of the flattened cutlets with olive oil, then sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper. Place the cutlets carefully on the hot pan or grill and cook for a maximum of 1 minute on each side, less if this seems too long.
  5. I use my blowtorch to finish the cutlets. Sometimes the bones (which cook slower) can be a bit bloody and this isn’t very appetising. So I take the blowtorch very quickly around the edge of the bones and cutlets to finish them off before serving.
Serve the lamb scottadito on warmed plates and drizzle over the salsa verde. Serve warm.

Kheema with Peas (Minced Lamb Curry with Peas)

Kheema with peas in the cooking pot
Kheema with peas

Kheema is a minced lamb curry with peas. You can either buy minced lamb or buy some lamb and mince it yourself. Probably best made with minced leg of lamb, but if I’m in a hurry I just buy some minced lamb from the supermarket. It does need some fat content though or it will be “dry” and a bit flavourless.

Like all of these dishes it works best the day after, or if frozen and defrosted later. You can keep half the methi to add at the reheating stage, or even add a bit more.
It’s also really quick to make. Chop the onions first and start them softening while you look out and prep everything else.
Methi really is an essential ingredient. You can buy it mail order here: Spices of India
Green Chutney works really well with this, and I always serve with it, and some natural yoghurt.
(At any stage if the spices or mix start to dry and catch add a splash of water to recover it and avoid burning)

Ingredients

  • 500g minced leg of lamb
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5 green cardamom pods, lightly cracked
  • 1 large onion quite finely chopped
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½-1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (mirch), to taste
  • 200ml water, add a little more if too “thick”
  • 100g frozen peas (vary quantity as you like)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (methi)

Last minute additions

  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 chopped green chilli
  • Juice of half a lemon (optional)
  • Natural yoghurt (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a deep pan over medium heat and add the green cardamom pods for about 10 seconds.
  2. Add the onions, frying until softened and brown in colour. This will take up to 20 minutes
  3. Add the garlic and the ginger cooking for 1-2 minutes stirring frequently so they don’t catch and burn.
  4. Stir in the tomato puree and cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. You now need to cook the minced lamb. You’ve got two choices. Either fry it off with the rest of the spices (in which case you might need to turn the heat up a bit, but it’s hard to brown without burning the other ingredients, so I avoid this). Or, as I prefer to do, cook it in a separate hot non-stick pan (that way you can really brown it without scorching the other ingredients, also you can choose how much of the fat you add as some is needed to help the flavour.)
  6. Add the turmeric powder and chilli powder. Cook and stir well for 3-4 minutes until the mince is even coloured all the way through.
  7. Add the methi leaves, and the water, and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and simmer on a gentle heat for 20 minutes.
  8. Lastly, adjust the seasoning and add the garam masala, coriander and chilli just before serving.
  9. Serve warm with some lemon juice and Indian bread (naan, chapati or parathas) and green chutney. A dollop of natural yoghurt doesn’t go amiss (an especially nice contrast if you like the Kheema quite hot.). I usually omit the lemon juice if I’m using my favourite Green Onion Chutney.