Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Fragrant February

When the weather is particularly grey and one is yearning for Spring to burst forth as opposed to teasing us with a mild day which is then chased away by one of snow, it is natural to crave food that conjures images of warm sunny days. And so I find that this month I have reached for cookery books by Claudia Roden and the Sams Clark for dishes which are fragrant with spices such as cinnamon and sumac and sweetened with dried fruits and pomegranate molasses.

As ever I have tweaked recipes to suit my own particular tastes (and those of my guests) and tried to use at least a couple of seasonal ingredients - in this case, deliciously pink Yorkshire rhubarb.

Lamb & Rhubarb Khoresh (adapted from Waitrose Food Illustrated) serves 4
650-700g cubed lamb
1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
450ml hot stock (preferably lamb but vegetable would be fine)
large handful flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
large handful mint leaves, coarsely chopped
1 stick cinnamon
400g rhubarb, but into 4cm lengths
1 tbsp sugar

Heat a good glug of oil in a large casserole and brown the meat all over.
Remove and tip in the onion, cooking until soft and golden. Return the meat to the pan, add the stock, season and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and leave to gently bubble for 30 mins.
Add 3/4 of the herbs and the cinnamon and cook for another 30 minutes.
Stir in the rhubarb and cook gently without the lid for 15 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender (as opposed to a mush).
Stir in the sugar, check the seasoning and add the rest of the herbs before you serve.

Mussaka' A Menazzaleh
(aubergine with tomatoes and chickpeas) serves 5 as a side dish, 2 as a main
2 aubergines
3 garlic cloves, crushed
600g tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 stick of cinnamon
1-2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

Cut the aubergines in half lengthwise and then into thin slices. Brush with oil, salt and grill for 15 minutes, turning once half way through.
Heat some oil in a large pan, add the garlic and cook until softens. Add the tomatoes, squashing them with a spoon. Season, add the cinnamon stick and cook for 15 minutes.
Add the molasses, throw in the aubergine slices and simmer for 30 minutes. If it gets rather dry add a little passatta.
Add the chickpeas at the end and serve with the parsley sprinkled on top.

(If this is a main, serve with chunks of feta cheese crumbled over the top)

And to finish, a simple fruit salad of sliced oranges, doused with rosewater and sprinkled with sliced Mejdool dates and icing sugar.


Peter Newman-Legros said...

Wondering if there is an alternative to lamb with the rhubarb - I suppose tuna might just work? What gorgeous flavours and written do tantalisingly. You almost tempt this demivegetarian - but not quite! XXX

Peter Newman-Legros said...

ooh! and the aubergine dish looks just the thing for a cold and rainy February night....