I have made a few recipes that use lamb with middle eastern spices, currants and pine nuts. My absolute favourite was a Karen Martini recipe for Spicy Lamb and Pine Nut Fingers with Pomegranate Sauce. Quite fiddly to make but incredible. I just wasn’t a fan of the Pomegranate Sauce – a mix of pomegranate molasses, olive oil and lemon juice. I find they really need some sort of dipping sauce and was unsure what I could replace the Pomegranate Sauce with. Well now I know – Yoghurt and Paprika Sauce. It went so well with the lamb.
This recipe, for what are basically meatballs, is from a book called Family Food & Weekend Feasts by Janelle Bloom. It has the essence of all those scrummy Turkish flavours but in a very family friendly dinner. I served the kids just the meatballs with the yoghurt – no paprika sauce (having said that Tilly tried it and loved it). Allow enough time for the yoghurt to sit in a sieve in the fridge. The spices just need to toast slightly in the ghee right at the last minute. If you are after a speedy dinner then you could just serve the meatballs with a good dollop of Greek yoghurt – a little crushed garlic and squeeze of lemon juice might give it a bit more life though.
The meatballs are best rolled well before hand and popped on a tray, covered and refrigerated. Then right before dinner I get my lovely, lovely big 30cm frypan on the stove, drizzle on a little oil and cooked all the meatballs at once. The turkish bread went in the oven to warm through and I just tossed some salad leaves in olive oil and lemon juice. Pretty easy dinner.
I think this would look lovely to have the meatballs piled up on a big platter with a few big dollops of the yoghurt and paprika sauce as part of a buffet table to serve a crowd. Slice up a big Turkish loaf and put alongside in a bread basket. Very easy to double or triple and once cooked they could be kept covered in foil in a low oven.
spiced lamb with yoghurt and paprika sauce
(from Janelle Bloom’s book ‘Family Food & Weekend Feasts’)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, grated (I blitzed it in the mini bowl of food processor)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon pine nuts, chopped
500g lamb mince
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon currants
1/4 cup mint leaves, shredded
Turkish bread, toasted to serve
yoghurt and paprika sauce
1 cup Greek yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/2 small red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
Spoon the yoghurt into a sieve and stand this over a bowl. Cover loosely and pop in the fridge for at least one hour. Discard any liquid in the bowl and spoon the thick yoghurt into a bowl along with the crushed garlic. Stir together, cover and refrigerate.
In a large frypan over a low heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil, the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Turn up the heat a little more and add the pine nuts. Toast for a few minutes, or until light golden. Tip into a large bowl. Add the mince, cumin, coriander, tomato paste, breadcrumbs, currants and half the mint. Mix well by hand and then roll into small balls. Place on a tray, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat remaining oil in a large frypan over a medium heat. Cook meatballs in 2 batches (I managed to fit them in the pan at once quite comfortably) turning them often for about 10 minutes or until cooked through.
In a small saucepan, heat the ghee and then add the paprika, cumin, mustard seeds and chilli. Cook for a few minutes or until the mustard seeds start to pop.
Plate up the meatballs, spoon over the yoghurt and then drizzle over the warm ghee mixture. Top with remaining mint leaves. Serve with toasted Turkish bread and a green salad.