Spiced Lamb Meatballs In A Stewed Tomato And Aubergine Sauce.

Spiced lamb meatballs cooked in a stewed tomato and aubergine sauce, served on a bed of couscous and garnished with herbs and toasted almonds.

This dish is the first time I have been genuinely happy with meatballs I have made, both the flavour and the texture are spot on. This is a fairly quick and simple meal to prepare, but has a depth of flavour that tastes like it has taken all day to prepare.

Firstly a spice mix is prepared from coriander seeds, cumin seeds and smoked sweet paprika – the spices are toasted until aromatic then ground in a spice grinder. Sliced almonds are then dry roasted in a pan until they are toasted on both sides, these give both a wonderful flavour and texture to the final dish.

Meatballs are then made in a small food processor which gives a smooth well mixed meatball, they are flavoured with some of the spice mix, salt, mint, parsley, onion and garlic. Some breadcrumbs and egg are used to help bind the meatballs. Once blitzed into a smooth paste, they are rolled, placed in a fridge for 10 minutes then browned in some hot oil. They are then removed from the oil and set aside as they are finished in the wonderful sauce which comes next.

The sauce is made from first frying garlic, onion, a red chilli and a peeled diced aubergine. Once softened some spice mix is added along with some diced peeled plum tomatoes. A little salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, some chicken stock, parsley and coriander leaf is added, then the meatballs. The pan is covered and left to stew on a low heat for 25 minutes, during which some couscous is prepared using chicken stock for extra flavour.

The meatballs are served on a bed of couscous, garnished with the toasted almonds and a lemon wedge.

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Serves Two

Cooking time less than 40 minutes

Ingredients and method

Toasted spices and almonds

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp. sliced almonds

Method: place a dry frying pan over a medium low heat. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and toast for approx. 5 minutes until aromatic, shake the pan frequently to turn the seeds and ensure they do not burn. Transfer to a spice grinder along with the smoked paprika and grind until a smooth powder is formed. Set aside for cooking.

In the same pan add the sliced almonds then increase the heat and toast the almonds until coloured on both sides, again shake the pan frequently to ensure even cooking. Set aside to garnish the dish later.

Meatballs

250g lamb mince

1 small brown onion

1.5 tsp spice mix

0.5 tsp salt

8 mint leaf’s

1 tbsp. chopped parsley leaf

3 cloves garlic

3 tbsp. breadcrumbs

1 egg

2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil

Method: Add the ingredients to a small food processor, blitz until combined and a smooth thick paste like consistency is formed.

Use wet hands to portion and roll the meatballs into small balls, about half the size of a golf ball is best in my opinion. I find it helpful to have a bowl of warm water to dip my hands into as wet hands make rolling the meatballs much easier.

Once rolled place on a flat plate, cover and place in a fridge for 10 minutes.

Remove from the fridge, then warm 2-3 tbsp. of oil in a wide frying pan. Fry the meatballs in batches so that there is plenty room in the frying pan. Brown the meatballs, then place them on some absorbent paper, set aside ready to add to the sauce.

Tomato and Aubergine Sauce

1 onions – diced

3 plum tomatoes –  skin, dice

3 cloves garlic – crush, chop

1 red chilli – deseed, dice

1 Aubergine – skin, dice

Rest of spice mixture

0.5 tsp salt

Handful coriander leaf – chopped

Handful parsley – chopped

150ml chicken stock

Juice of 1/4 lemon

2 tbsp. olive oil

Method: Heat a large deep frying pan (one with a lid) over a medium high heat and add 2 tbsp. olive oil. Once hot add the diced onion, chilli and aubergine, stir frequently and cook until the onions soften. Add the spice mixture and salt and stir through.

Next add the diced tomato, stock and herbs, stir through and bring to a simmer. Add the browned meatballs, lemon juice and stir through the sauce. Bring back to a simmer, place a lid on the pan, reduce heat and leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Couscous

120g couscous

350ml chicken stock

Method: place the couscous and chicken stock in a sauce pan (one with a lid), bring the pan to the boil, reduce heat to low and leave until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid. Remove lid and fluff up with a fork prior to serving.

Serving

Place a bed of couscous on the plate, ladle the meatballs and sauce on top then garnish with the toasted almonds.

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Grilled Ras el Hanout Lamb Loin Chop, Toasted Almonds and a Moroccan bean stew

Grilled lamb chop marinated in Ras el Hanout spice, served on a Moroccan bean stew, garnished with toasted sliced almonds and a little coriander leaf.

If I ever open a restaurant, this would be on the menu for certain. I have always been a fan of Moroccan cuisine and visited the coastal resort of Agadir a few years ago, where my love of the food only grew. Grilled meats and stews are the backbone of Moroccan cuisine and the inspiration behind this recipe was the local food I sampled in Agadir.

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Serves two people

Preparation time 15 minutes (plus 2-3 hrs marinating time)

cooking time 15mins for lamb, approx. 95 minutes for bean stew

 

Ingredients and Method

For Lamb

2 Lamb loin chops – 150-200g each

2-3 tbsp. Ras el Hanout spice mixture

1 tbsp. olive oil – plus a little to brush on grill pan

Method: Place the lamb chops in a food bag, then add the olive oil and Ras el Hanout. Tie the bag, shake well then massage the spices into the lamb. Place in a fridge for 2-3 hours and take out 30 minutes before grilling to bring to room temperature.

To cook the Lamb, pre heat the grill pan on a high setting, once hot brush the grill with a little olive oil (so spices and lamb don’t stick to it and burn). Once olive oil begins to smoke add the lamb to the grill pan, sear the chops on all sides then reduce heat to medium. Cook the lamb for 12 minutes (for rare) to 14 minutes (medium) , turning every few minutes. It is important to grill the lamb on all sides – including the bone and fat side, this adds flavour and helps renders the fat to make the meat even more succulent. You will likely need to use kitchen tongs to hold the meat when grilling on bone and fat side. Once grilled rest the lamb on a plate for a few minutes before serving.

For the bean stew

235g cannoli beans – drain and rinse well under running water

3 small red onions

4 cloves garlic – remove skin

1 red chilli – remove stalk and seeds

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp medium hot chill powder

1.5 tsps. sweet smoked paprika

6 tbsp. sliced almonds – half for paste half for toasting

2 tbsp. roughly chopped coriander leaf

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp dried parsley leaf

1 tsp dried coriander leaf

500ml stock

350ml water

300g passata

1 dessert spoon brown sugar

Black peppercorns – in mill for grinding

1 tsp vinegar

Greek Yogurt – optional condiment 

Method: start by making a paste to flavour the bean stew. Add the red onions, garlic, red chilli, chilli powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika and 3 tbsp. sliced almonds into a mini chopper/food processor and blitz into a smooth red paste. Heat 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil in a flat deep non stick frying pan then add the paste. Cook the paste for 4-6 minutes, stirring frequently, loosen with a few tsp of water if paste sticks to pan – make sure it does not burn.

Once the paste is cooked add the beans and stir through the paste until combined. Next add the rest of the ingredients – the stock, water, dried parsley, dried coriander, passata, brown sugar, vinegar and a generous amount of ground black pepper. Stir well until combined and heat through until it begins to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Leave pan uncovered and let the stew slowly reduce for around 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the stew is reducing too slowly increase the heat slightly, if sauce has reduced too much simply add a little water to loosen it. The stew is ready when beans are softened and the sauce has reduced to a rich thick consistency.

To make the garnish simply toast the rest of the sliced almonds in a dry pan over a medium heat, turning frequently until the almonds toast and start to take on a golden brown colour. remove them from the heat and tip the almonds on to a plate. To serve spoon the bean stew on to the plate, place the grilled lamb in centre then sprinkle with toasted almonds and coriander leaf. Some Greek yogurt works very well as a condiment.

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