Lamb, Chickpeas, Hummus, Yogurt and Mint
Saturday, 18 January 2014
I love lamb with Middle-Eastern/North African flavours. I bought some za'atar recently which is a blend of sumac, sesame seeds and thyme. I added some to the pitta bread and the lamb but I didn't add enough to either for it to make its presence felt. I think you need to be generous with it and make something like these breads. I was generous with the baharat though which I love.
To make the lamb I simply fried some onions in butter, added the baharat and the lamb and let it cook until the lamb was browned. Then I added the chickpeas (dried chickpeas which I had soaked, cooked and frozen, tinned are fine too), a handful of sultanas and some flaked almonds and cooked it for a while longer.
I still have mint growing in my garden. I mixed it with cucumber, spring onions and yogurt. Unfortunately the mint may still be green and growing but it is not minty. I wished I'd bought supermarket mint.
For the third day running I found myself making bread for supper. Not very balanced, and all white bread at that, but homemade pittas are well worth making. This was the first time I'd made them and if you are used to bread-making then they couldn't be easier. I used exactly the same ingredients as for my pizza dough here.
After it had risen I divided it into eight lumps and rolled it out thinly into rough circles . I then baked them on a baking tray in a very hot oven -as hot as it goes- 230°c (210°c fan oven) for 5 mins. They puff up spectacularly. I did them in three batches and wrapped them in a cloth to keep them soft and they were fabulous.
We spread them with smoked hummus which we hadn't tried before - we will stick to unsmoked in future*, we spooned the lamb mixture over the hummus and finished with the cucumber and mint yogurt. We ate them with our hands, all except Charlie who resolutely used and knife and fork. We also tried splitting the pittas and filling them which was much easier than splitting bought pittas.
Variations on a theme
For a vegetarian version leave out the meat and add more chickpeas or vegetables
Use pine nuts instead almonds, dried apricots instead of sultanas, beef instead of lamb.
Forget the bread and hummus and mix the lamb mixture with cooked rice or serve it with couscous.
Instead of a Middle-Eastern flavour try an Indian one. Leave out the hummus and the baharat, make the lamb into a keema curry and crack open the mango chutney. the pittas are soft enough to stand in for naan bread.
*My favourite hummus is Waitrose's Moroccan hummus.