This recipe is inspired by my time in the Middle East, travelling and working with people from across South Asia who used a lot of different spices in their cooking, as well as local Arabic-style home cooking.
A common theme was to slow cook dishes with warm, richly spiced, meltingly tender meats. Even the smallest local corner shops had spice sections that would put our specialty food stores to shame, and fresh herbs were cheap and abundant.
We enjoyed this dish with a simple fennel pilaf (easy to pop in the oven alongside your lamb), herbed yoghurt, and lemon slices. The pilaf is perfect for soaking up all the juicy flavours, and the herb yoghurt balances the richness adding a cool, sharp and creamy hit to finish it off.
Make whatever vegetable side you like - we had honeyed carrots. Suggested drink match: Aurum Pinot Noir from Central Otago.
|1kg||approx. lamb shoulder|
|Drizzle||olive oil, to brown|
|2||medium onions, diced|
|3 cloves||garlic, crushed|
|200g||cherry tomatoes, halved|
|30ml||cabernet sauvignon vinegar|
|3 Tbsp||cumin seeds|
|3 Tbsp||coriander seeds|
|2 Tbsp||mustard seeds|
|2 tsp||fennel seeds|
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- For the spice mix: Combine all and set aside.
- Season the lamb shoulder well with salt and pepper. In a large casserole dish heat some olive oil over a medium heat and brown the lamb. Remove the lamb, then add the spice mix to the casserole dish, stirring constantly until aromatic - be careful not to burn them, this will take about 30 seconds.
- Add the onion, garlic and tomatoes and stir, cook for about 3 minutes. Then add the tomato paste and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the white wine and vinegar and simmer until reduced by half.
- Preheat oven to 150C.
- Add the chicken stock and herbs and bring to the simmer, return the lamb shoulder, cover with a lid, and place in the preheated oven. Check the lamb shoulder about every hour or so, it will take 4 hours to cook to tender.
- If you want a little more roasted colour you can remove the lid for an hour towards the end of cooking. Remove the lamb from the oven and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes. Finish with a squeeze of lemon, a handful of fresh chopped parsley and a good slug of olive oil. Serve with fennel rice pilaf, optional, recipe below.
Fennel rice pilaf
1 large fennel bulb, diced, feathery tops reserved
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups vegetable stock (or water)
Flaky sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 150C
2. In an ovenproof pot with lid, sweat the fennel bulb and seeds in some olive oil and salt over a medium heat. Add half the butter and all the rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to make sure the rice is well coated with the butter.
3. Add the stock and bring to the simmer, and give one gentle stir to make sure the rice is not stuck. Place the lid on and bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven, add the remaining butter and place the lid back on and allow the pilaf to rest for 10-15 minutes. Just before serving gently mix through chopped fennel tops.
- Serves: 4-6