Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Aromatic Lamb with Dried Apricots

Although I'm the homeliest of home cooks, every now and  then I get an urge to recreate something that I've eaten in a restaurant and today is one of those occasions. This dish probably started out long ago as a traditional Parsi dish but by the time that I came across it in a south London restaurant it had been adapted to British tastes and to restaurant cooking. Sadly, I didn't get the recipe at the time and the restaurant is long gone now. In my attempts to recreate the dish I've used some decidedly inauthentic ingredients. But who cares? It works.

The dried fruit brings a lovely sweetness to the dish while the spices add both depth of flavour and fragrance. There are a lot of ingredients listed, but it’s actually pretty easy to put together. If you can, allow yourself enough time for the overnight marinade – it really does make a difference.

The dish is fine on its own but it would also sit well alongside a vegetable curry or you could serve it with rice if you happen to be really hungry. A simple chutney would also be good – lemon chutney would be ideal. It should serve two fairly generously.
Aromatic Lamb with Dried Apricots
275 g trimmed lamb neck fillet, cut into chunks of about 3 cm
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cm (or thereabouts) fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato purée
8 dried apricots, cut in half
1 tbsp raisins
Seeds of 3 green cardamom pods, crushed
¼ tsp fennel seeds, crushed
2 tbsp ground almonds
Steamed or boiled new potatoes
A dash of lemon juice
Coriander leaves, roughly chopped

For the marinade:
     1 tsp paprika
     1 tsp cumin, ground
     1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
     Seeds of 1 black cardamom pod, crushed
     ½ tsp black pepper
     1 large clove garlic, crushed
     30 ml balsamic vinegar (a cheap but not nasty one is fine)
     30 ml red wine
     1 tbsp palm sugar (use brown sugar if you don’t have palm)

Mix together all the marinade ingredients in a non-reactive bowl, add the lamb, cover and leave in the fridge overnight (or for a few hours, if you’re in a hurry).

The next day, sweat the onion in a little oil over a low heat for at least 10 minutes. Add the ginger and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Add the lamb and the marinade and stir in the tomato purée. Pour in water until the lamb is almost covered, bring to a simmer, cover the pan and let it cook very gently for an hour. Stir now and then and top up the water if it starts to dry out.

After an hour, add the apricots and raisins. Stir in the cardamom and fennel seeds and the ground almonds. Season with a little salt. Cover the pan loosely and continue cooking for another half an hour. The sauce should be quite thick – if it seems too thin, then remove the lid during this last half hour but, on the other hand, add a little water if it seems too dry. Stir in as many cooked new potatoes as you fancy for the final 15 minutes or so.

Once the cooking is complete, stir in a dash of lemon juice to freshen the taste, add a little more salt if it needs it and sprinkle with the coriander leaves just before serving.

12 comments:

  1. Oh yum, this looks delicious. I've only recently starting eating lamb, and I can see how the flavours in this dish would certainly suit my palate... apricots are used traditionally in several Parsi dishes, and weirdly vinegar too, so you're all good :)

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    1. Thanks Michelle. I'm not at all sure about red wine being the 'right' kind of ingredient but it definitely gave the dish the kind of taste I was after.

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  3. This looks delicious.
    I had no idea what Parsi meant until I googled it. I might have a go at this when We fancy something a bit different from our usual curry.

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  4. Gorgeous recipe - i love lamb with apricots - a classic!

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  5. Now I think this would taste good cooked in the tagine. Yum Yum. Have a good weekend. Diane

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  6. I love the idea of recreating a dish from a restaurant! I think it's more fun when you have no base recipe to start with. Sounds like a wonderful meal with a delicious set of ingredients!

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  7. I often try recreating a dish from a restaurant at home and although they invariably turn out different to the original, they're usually good nonetheless. Your lamb looks delicious, with a lovely blend of spices and flavours and just the right amount of sweetness from the apricots.

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  8. Oh my Phil, now you are talking!! I know what to do with all the dried apricots and almonds I brought back from Turkey - this looks like a treat :)

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  9. Hi Phil, this dish looks and sounds really nice! I would probably have it with rice, he he :). Our computer's been broken for ages now and haven't been able to post a few dishes I've concocted. Hopefully this weekend it'll be sorted. What does non-reactive bowl mean? Sorry if it's a no brainier to others as I'm still learning.. :)

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    1. This marinade contains vinegar and so is acidic and any acidic foodstuff may react with the bowl you use. The same's true of fruit juice or pulp, for instance. A reaction with the bowl can cause the food to take on a nasty taste and/or colour. Essentially you just need to avoid any bowl that will be attacked by the acid. Generally I use glass because that doesn't react to much at all. Most ceramics for food use are fine too, although some glazes can get damaged. Although stainless steel should be fine, it's generally best to avoid metal, especially aluminium. I'm hoping your computer gets well soon.

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  10. This is my kind of dish! AND I think it pretty cool that I, too, posted on apricots this week. Check out my chi-chi Tarte aux Abricots! Glad you stopped by today, Phil! It spurred me to return the visit, something I have been neglecting to do of late!

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Sorry but I've had to switch word verification on due to a vast amount of very depressing spam.