Pakistan meets Japan in the Middle East!

I am just about to book this years cooking vacation, my original plans have had to be suspended due to local challenges and I will be heading off to Gramont, in Gascony in early June for a weeks course and some r&r. The bad news is a clash with FBC2014, the international food bloggers convention which is taking place in London at the same time!

I was driving up to the fave farm shop to buy some meat recently, and my mind was thinking of what to cook over the weekend. With the rubbish weather we have been having, and the boss being full of cold for several weeks something tasty and wholesome had to be on the cards.

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The wholesome is a blend of three grains Quinoa, Maftoul, a Palestinian Cous Cous, and Freekeh; two of these grains are regarded as super foods so this has to be good for you! The protein is a half (or whole) shoulder of lamb that is marinaded for at least 8 hours in a mixture of Yoghurt, Coriander, Chilli’s,  Mint, AnardanaSumac, All Spice and Garlic, and then slow cooked for about 4 hours until tender.

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This recipe uses a considerable amount of fresh Coriander and Mint so if you have a oriental supermarket near you, its probably best to buy from them,  I got a massive bunch of Coriander for 70p, the supermarket equivalent would have been at least a fiver!

The following ingredients are needed to create this dish, ideally start the day before you cook to allow the meat to soak up all the marinade flavours.

Marinade

  1. 500g  Natural Organic Yoghurt
  2. 1 Big Bunch fresh Coriander
  3. 1 Big Bunch fresh Mint
  4. 4 cloves Garlic
  5. 1 Red Chilli
  6. 1 Green Chilli
  7. 1 Tsp Anardana
  8. 1 Tsp Sumac
  9. 1 Tsp All Spice

This mixture is an adaption of Sindhi Lamb Biryani, a dish I learnt to cook on the Pakistani cookery course I attended last year and the Pakistan element of the title above, with some subtle Middle Eastern influence. Place it all in a food processor or blender and whizz till smooth and blended it should look like this.

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Take your half/shoulder of lamb and pierce with a sharp thin knife to enable the marinade to penetrate into the meat, pour some of the marinade into a suitable bowl, put the lamb in and pour the rest over the top making sure its well coated. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight. Its worth turning the meat over every few hours just to make sure the marinade is doing its stuff.

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This is how mine looked before the final marinade was added to cover the exposed lamb shoulder.

For the next step you will need the following;

Pakistan Meets Japan In the Middle East

  1. 1 Red Onion finely sliced
  2. Vegetable Stock
  3. 2 cloves Garlic, crushed
  4. 2 Star Anise
  5. 1 Tbls Coriander seed
  6. 8 Green Cardamon (crushed)
  7. 1 Black Cardamon
  8. 2 Tsp Pomegranate Molasses
  9. 100g Maftoul
  10. 100g Freekeh
  11. 75g Quinoa

When the lamb is marinated, place in a roasting dish and cover with tin foil, stick in an oven set to 130 deg (fan) 150 deg (convection) and cook for 4 hours till meltingly tender. An hour before the lamb is finished cooking you can start to prepare the rest of the ingredients. Check the cooking instructions on each of the grains, the Maftoul can either be boiled or steamed, the other grains are usually boiled until just tender.

I cooked the Maftoul (9 minutes) in Vegetable stock and 2 Tsp Pomegranate Molasses, the Freekeh (40 minutes) in Vegetable stock and Quinoa (20 mins and 10 to rest) in plain water.

The Onion and hard spices need frying until tender, adding the garlic towards the end so it does not burn, it should look like the picture below at this stage. The Onion/Spices are gentle mixed with the grains when both are cooked removing the Cardamon and Star Anise to prevent tooth issues!

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To complete the dish and introduce the Japanese element,a modified Ponzu dressing is used that has had some Rapeseed oil and Grape Molasses added, and used in conjunction with some thinly sliced red onion.

The Finishing Touch

  1. 1/2 Red Onion, fried until brown and crispy
  2. 1/2 Red Onion finely sliced
  3. 3 Tbls Rice Wine Vinegar
  4. 2 1/2 Tbls Mirin
  5. 2 Tbls Yuzu
  6. 3 Tbls Soy Sauce
  7. 2 Tsp Grape Molasses
  8. 1 Pomegranate (seeded)
  9. 25 g Toasted Almonds and/or Pistachios to finish

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This recipe developed over several hours, and tasting each stage to make sure the balance was right. The final touches need you to mix the Rice Wine Vinegar, Mirin, Soy Sauce (to taste) and Grape Molasses. One 1/2 of the finely chopped Onion is added to the mixture and set aside in the fridge for an hour or so. The other 1/2 of the Onion is fried until crispy and stirred into the final dish. You will notice in the heading picture some Feta cheese, I forgot to add it at the end, DOH.

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So here you have it, a nutritious and tasty meal that is full of goodness and a flavor punch to match. Just finish off with the Nuts and Pomegranate. It takes a bit of effort but as the boss said, scrummerlicious.

This dish was influenced by Bethany Kehdy, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sumayya Jamil who continue to inspire my food direction. Spices from Otolenghi’s and Steenbergs, and the meat from Vicars Games @ Casey Fields Farm Shop.

Go on, have a go, its worth it.

L8ers…..

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