Lamb for 4: thick chops, slices of leg or shoulder
Flour for dredging
Margarine and olive oil for sautéeing
2 onions, peeled, trimmed and chopped
1 clove garlic, mashed but not chopped
1 large zucchini, round or long, trimmed and chopped into small chunks
½ red pepper, chopped
2 Tbs cider vinegar
½ tsp Adobo chili powder
1 – 2 tsps schwarma spice blend * (see below the recipe), can also be replaced by ½ tsp ground cumin + ½ tsp ground coriander + 1/8 tsp turmeric + dash paprika or any one of these to taste
1 tsp sugar
2 – 3 Tbs golden raisins
1 – 2 Tbs slivered almonds, lightly toasted
Dredge the lamb in flour and shake off the excess. Heat about a tablespoon each margarine and olive oil in a deep sautée pan, skillet or pot. When hot and steaming, brown the lamb pieces on both sides. Once browned, remove from the pan onto a plate or platter and set aside.
Add a bit more margarine and olive oil to the pot and add the chopped onion, garlic and red pepper and sautée, stirring often, until the onion bits are transparent, tender and begin to brown around the edges. Remove the garlic (discard) and add the teaspoon sugar and the small cubes of zucchini continue to cook until the onion is caramelized a deep golden brown and the zucchini and red pepper is tender. Add the cider vinegar to deglaze the pan: while the vinegar quickly evaporates, scrape up the blackened bits on the bottom of the pan until it all melts into the liquid; add a bit of water if needed.
Add the lamb back into the pan with the raisins and the spices, salt and pepper and add water just to cover. Bring just to the boil then lower the heat, cover and allow to simmer gently over very low heat for 1 hour 30 minutes, adding water as necessary.
Once finished cooking and the lamb fork tender, taste to adjust seasonings. Allow to sit and rest for as much time as possible (this is not necessary but we find that the flavors meld and the sauce thickens while the meat tenderizes even further), 30 minutes to an hour or prepare early in the day for dinner. Reheat gently just before serving (allow to simmer gently if you desire a thicker sauce.
Serve over rice or couscous grains topped with lightly toasted slivered almonds for crunch.
Shawarma Spice Blend is a North African mix of ground spices which flavor tagines and grilled meats. If can be made at home by stirring together the following ground spices – or simply replace in this recipe with about ½ tsp ground cumin + ½ tsp ground coriander and a dash of cinnamon:
1 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs coriander
1 Tbs garlic powder
½ Tbs paprika
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
Jamie Schler, an American married to a Frenchman, and living in Nantes in the Pays de la Loire, France, calls herself a freelance writer specialising in food and culture. That’s a bit like calling Picasso a painter. She is a blogger, photographer, teacher [both photography and writing] and leads workshops all over Europe and indeed a couple of years ago here in Cape Town. Do go to her website – click here.
Michael’s Wine Recommendation – click here.