For the love of lamb!

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A variation of this much loved viand will chase away winter chills, writes DEBBIE FERNS
Winter is the time for hearty, wholesome, warming meals, especially when the sky is overcast and there’s an Arctic chill in the air. Now lamb is a meat for all seasons, but during winter, the traditional Aussie lamb roast, slow-cooked rack of lamb or lamb shanks in gravy are sure to chase away the cold. To get warmer, maybe you could try a lamb curry or lamb rogan josh. But for a change, how about moving further east and bringing a touch of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean warmth into your palate. You’ll find these recipes redolent of sunny skies and swaying palms. So enjoy getting warm this winter with these exotic lamb recipes.
Lamb Passanda
2kg boneless lamb, cubed
4 inch ginger piece
6-8 garlic cloves
4 large onions
4 tbsp cumin
4 tbsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric powder
4 cloves, crushed
2 tbsp oil
8 cardamoms, crushed
125gms blanched almonds
125 gms cashew nuts
800 mls coconut milk
2 cups water
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large heavy bottomed casserole, fry the nuts in half the oil until they are brown. Blend in a food processor until finely chopped. Set aside. Roughly chop the ginger, garlic and onions, and puree in a blender. Next, brown the meat in batches in the same oil, adding more, if needed. Keep aside. Add the onion mix to the oil, frying on medium flame until it turns dark brown. Add all the spices and cook for two minutes. Add the lamb to the mix again, then add the coconut milk and water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 90 minutes or until the meat is tender. Add the lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with rice or naan.
Mediterranean Lamb
700gms lamb, cubed
3 tbsp oil
1 onion sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tsp tomato puree
700 mils meat stock
1 red pepper sliced
¼ finely chopped parsley
2 tbsp cake flour
1 lemon, juice and rind
100gms soft butter
3 tbsp mixed herbs – parsley, oregano, rosemary (dried or fresh)
1 medium sliced French loaf
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and lightly grease an ovenproof casserole with a little butter. In a separate bowl, mix the butter with herbs, and spread it on one side of the bread slices. Set aside. Mix the cake flour with salt and pepper according to your taste. Next, heat oil in a saucepan and brown the meat cubes. Set aside. Saute onions and garlic in the same saucepan. Add meat, add cake flour, and stir. Add stock and tomato puree, and bring gently to a boil. Transfer the mix to the casserole, cover and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, add the juice of lemon, chopped red pepper and fresh parsley, mixing together lightly. Arrange the slices of bread on top of the mixture, herb side up and bake for 35-40 minutes until the meat is tender and bread topping is golden brown. Serve hot.
Easy Arni Souvlaki
1 leg of lamb cubed
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3-4 bay leaves, cut into smaller pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Place lamb in an earthenwear or glass dish. Add all the ingredients, mix well and cover. Leave to marinate for 12-24 hours, stirring meat occasionally. When ready to cook, thread lamb onto metal skewers and cook under a hot grill or over a glowing charcoal barbeque, turning and basting frequently with marinade juices. Grill for 15 minutes or until cooked to your taste.
Arabian rice with lamb
For the rice
250 gms basmati rice
6 cardamoms
1 medium stick cinnamon
10mls vinegar
1 tbsp rose water
1 tbsp saffron water
2 tsp fried onion
4 tsp roasted nuts
4 tsp fried raisins
For Arabic masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 tsp paprika powder
2 tsp peppercorn powder
4 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cardamom powder
½ tsp clove powder
1 tbsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp chilli powder (optional)
For the lamb
4 lamb shanks
50 gms ghee or oil
2 tbsp Arabic masala
120 gms yellow lentils
2 tomatoes, cubed
1 red chilli
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
Lamb stock
Boil the rice in water with the cardamom, cinnamon, salt and a little vinegar. When cooked, toss the rice with the saffron and rose waters, and add the fried onions, raisins and nuts, mixing gently and thoroughly.
Mix all the ingredients of the Arabic masala thoroughly, and keep aside. Any extra can be bottled for future use. Rub the lamb shanks with a mixture of the ghee, masala, salt and pepper. Coat the bottom of a deep bottomed oven proof casserole with the lentils, tomatoes, and chopped chilli, onion and garlic. Place the lamb shanks over the mix and add stock until the shanks are just covered. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and put the casserole in the oven to cook for about 11/2 – 2 hours at 180degrees. Cook until the meat is tender. When serving, place the lamb in a bed of warm rice and serve hot. This recipe can be prepared in a slow cooker too.

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