Moroccan-Style Baked Lamb

This dish was invented with whatever I had left in the house which wasn’t much but I always have spices (you should see my spice cupboard…) at hand so this is what the end result was. It’s Moroccan inspired but I wouldn’t say it is a traditional Moroccan dish that has been enjoyed for centuries…

Ingredients

4 lamb leg steaks (or chops)

2 tsp. cumin powder

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp Ras el hanout powder

1 tsp. curry powder

2 tsp. chilli powder

1 tsp sweet pimenton (or paprika)

2cm fresh ginger, minced

1 preserved lemon, diced

4 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled

Handful olives

Handful cranberries

1 potato, sliced

1 glass white wine

Method

1 Marinade the lamb with cumin, turmeric, ras el hanout, curry, chilli, pimenton, ginger, preserved lemon and white wine. Add the garlic, olives and cranberries.

2 In an ovenproof dish, layer potato slices on the bottom and top with the marinated lamb. Add water until the lamb is just about covered.

3 Cover with aluminium foil and bake in a hot oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Moroccan Style Lamb

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محفوظ الليمون (Moroccan Preserved Lemons)

Funny how tastes change. When I was a kid I used absolutely hate lemons but now I just can’t get enough of them. I even squeeze it onto pizza (my Italian friends think it is blasphemous)…hehe

The humble lemon gets completely transformed in this recipe. The flavour intensifies and interestingly, when using, the pulp is discarded and only the rind is used in recipes. Make sure you rinse it in cold water before using, otherwise it may be too salty.

Traditionally, the lemons are cut in quarters but not all the way to the bottom. They are then, opened up like a flower, stuffed with salt and spices and then pushed into the jar. Personally, I prefer to cut the lemons into wedges and then stuff them into the jar so that more lemon goodness can fit inside. Also, many Moroccan recipes don’t use any of the spices but I prefer it with the spices as it gives them a slightly different dimension.

Ingredients

Lemons (how ever many fit + extra to top it up with lemon juice)

Coarse salt

Cinnamon sticks

Cumin seeds

Peppercorns

Whole cloves

Dried cayenne chillies

Bay leaves

Method

1 Sterilize the Mason jar (or any other receptacle of your choosing). To do this, boil the jars and lids in hot water for at least 10 minutes. Take out with tongs (sterilize these too) and dry with a clean towel.

2 Cut the lemons into wedges and roll in salt.

3 Assembly: Fill the bottom of the Mason jar with 1 cm layer of salt. Add lemon wedges rolled in salt to the jar, pack down and add a few of the spices and another layer of salt. Repeat the process until no more lemons fit. Add a bit more salt and top up with lemon juice. Cover completely and close.

4 Store in a cool dark place for at least one month. For the first couple of days turn the jar upside down to mix everything well. After a few turns you needn’t touch it again until they are ready to use.

Once opened, it is recommended to store in the fridge. They last for months.

Preserved lemons

Koirat as-sardin كويرات السردين (Sardine Balls in a Tomato Sauce)

كويرات السردين من الصويرة و برغل

These sardine balls, most likely of Jewish origin, are popular in Essaouira, Morocco.

Ingredients

5 sardine fillets, de-boned

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. chilli powder

1 tsp. sweet pimenton (or paprika)

2 tsp. cumin powder

3 garlic cloves, minced

Parsley, chopped

Preserved lemons, outer rind thoroughly washed

Salt and pepper

4 tomatoes, grated

1 tsp. sugar

Method

1 Blitz the sardines and then mix in the turmeric, chilli, pimenton, cumin, garlic, parsley and preserved lemons. Add salt and pepper to taste. Form the mixture into small walnut-sized balls and set aside. TIP: wet hands with cold water to prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands.

2 Fry the grated tomatoes for 5 minutes. Blend to make a semi-smooth sauce. Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

3 Add the balls to the sauce and add a bit of water to cover them slightly.

4 Cook on a low heat for 10 – 15 minutes.

Serve with bulgur

كويرات السردين من الصويرة