Morrocan Spiced Lamb

Like a tagine, only cooked in whatever pot you have to hand. A whole shelf of wonderful store cupboard ingredients make this recipe deep, smokey, rich and utterly unctuous. As firey or sweet with chilli as you would like: just add more of the hot stuff to ramp up the heat.

This rich stew can be a plant based or meat free dish, we added paneer for our vegetarian … but Tofu, large hunks of roasted vegetables or chickpeas would work well as veggie or vegan options. Just remember that not all these need as long to cook as lamb will do.

Don’t attempt to rush this meal: it is a slow cook. Savour collecting the ingredients; the grinding of the spices and the gentle changes in the flavours as the sauce starts to come together. Cook indoors on a rainy Sunday or bubble away over a woodfire on a blazing Saturday.

Ingredients to marinade the meat:

  • 1kg of lamb shoulder, large dice (or a block or two of paneer cubed)
  • 2 tsp red peppercorns (ground)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp dried Espelette chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns (ground)
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 inches fresh grated ginger
  • 1 inch fresh grated turmeric
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 tsp salt
  • a couple of teaspoons of Belazu Rose Harissa paste. One day we might venture into making our own paste but today, this is what we used. It is darn good, a blend of spices like carawy, cumin and rose petals. Hard to beat.

Cover the meat/cheese with the marinade and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours. Maybe chill with a beer.

Starting to cook…

Collect up the next round of ingredients:

  • 3 x red onions, finely diced
  • 2 x fresh red ripe chillies. Your choice for adding heat. We like Espelette or Aleppo, definitely an Annuum or Frutescens as Chinense or Baccatum flavour is not quite right here.
  • 2 x tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 pint of tomato juice
  • a good pinch of saffron strands
  • 1 & 1/2 pints of lamb stock (add saffron strands into the stock to bring them back to life a little)
  • 100g dried apricots
  • 100g pitted dates
  • 100g sultanas
  • 100g flaked almonds

Heat your cooking vessel to fry off the marinated meat/paneer. Once it has browned remove and keep to one side until the sauce has been prepared.

Fry off the meat in batches to seal in the flavour. Not too much at one time.

Fry off finely chopped red onions and red chillies. Add tinned tomatoes, bring to a bubble, then add the meat back. Cheese does not need as much cooking time as lamb but the sauce itself does need a reasonable cooking time to develop its flavours and depth fully.

Top up with tomato juice and stock. Bring to the boil, add fruit & nuts.

Allow it to simmer…

We love to cook outdoors. Our Kadai firebowl is perfect for a dish like this.

Bubble away for a good couple of hours. Check tenderness of meat. Add a bit more tomato juice if the sauce is becoming a little thick or dry. This can be especially important when cooking outside. Taste and season, including a squeeze of honey to balance the spices.

Perfect comfort food to feed the soul

Serve with traditional cous cous, wholemeal flatbread, plain yoghurt, roasted veggies, a tomato & onion salad, a handful of coriander. It’s up to you.

An oxymoron of a delicate & robust dish.

Lime & Chilli Curd

Here we are on a blustery March Saturday afternoon in Hampshire. After an erratic Winter, the chickens have come into full lay at The Birdhouse. Huzzah!

The Birdhouse eggs

Normally that means eight eggs every day. But the neighbours are away and this results in the luxury of their eggs too. So twelve eggs a day. That’s a lot of eggs for our family. And although we really like eggs, what to do with them all?

Obviously this week egg meals have been on the menu: poached eggs for a scummy and nutritious school breakfast; scrambled eggs with fried mushrooms for lunch; spicy cheese and tomato omelettes for dinner. A quick banana loaf to utilise up some browning bananas brings down the egg count. But still the eggs keep a coming. Now we are into egg specialist recipe. What to opt for? Pancakes? Curd? Mousse? Yorkshire puddings? How about all of the above?

Today is curd and mousse day. A quick check of the fruit bowl reveals four limes: two mottled & mature bad boys and two fresh glowing newbies. The former perfect for flavoursome and plentiful juice, the latter good for zingy zest and vibrance of colour. And, of course, this is a house that lets not a day pass by without an element of chilli infuse our cooking. So, Lime & Chilli Curd, let’s get cooking!

The recipe is super simple, it makes 1 x 500ml jar of curd:

Just add eggs
  • 225g sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • juice of four limes
  • zest of two limes
  • 2 tsp of chilli flakes

The citrus juice and zest can be replaced with any acidic liquid and complimentary flavours. Strawberries & mint, champagne & passionfruit, bergamot orange & bay. Lemon and cardamon. The options are endless and tantalising.

  1. Place the sugar, juice, eggs and butter in a heavy bottomed pan and very gently heat the mix.
  2. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon. Do not let it cook too quickly or you will have lime flavoured scrambled egg on your hands. Expect to spend 15 minutes standing at the stove, stirring. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up. It just takes time. You are looking for a thickened liquid, cloudy with a subtle sort of whitish foam forming as it heats.
  3. Then strain through a sieve. Some curd recipes use only yolk, this avoids the blobby white bits but doesn’t use the whole egg. Not the aim here. Straining produces a smooth, silky curd.
  4. Add the lime zest and chilli flakes whilst still warm to allow the flavours to integrate.
  5. Jar up and you’re done. The curd will keep for a week in the fridge.

Simple, right?

Lime and chilli curd, zingy!

And what will we be doing with our curd? Why serving it under a pillow of chocolate mousse of course. And the recipe for the mousse? Simple again…

  • 2 eggs
  • 60g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  1. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Separate the eggs. Careful to make sure no yolk goes into the whites. This would stop the whites from whisking properly.
  3. Whisk the whites to stiff peaks. Use an electric beater. It takes about a minute.
  4. Add the sugar, whisk again. Just a quick blast with the beater.
  5. Add the yolks to the chocolate. Stir in with a spatula. The mix will thicken but don’t worry, it will loosen when you add the whites,
  6. Add a third of the egg whites and whisk in. Good old beater again.
  7. Now carefully fold the rest of the whites into the mix. Use a spatula and make sure there are no white streaks. Classic folding figure of eight, Don’t lose that air now. At this stage you could add a few chilli sprinkles if you want-mmmm!
  8. Spoon into your chosen vessel and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
Lime, chocolate and chilli. A classic combination.

So there we have it, a whole lot of egg gone to a good place and with the added bonus of using chillies too.

Hot Chilli Glazed Ham

Hmm, first question of the day, what to do with the final jar of last year’s marmalade? Next question…can I use it with chilli?

Well, bake a ham is the simple answer.

So what will we need?

Flavour the boiling liquor with ingredients that will compliment the glaze
  • a ham, a good smokey fella. We always go big when cooking a ham as it lasts for ages, freezes well and goes with pretty much anything you want.
  • For the boiling pot: dried casabel, whole onion, couple of tangerines, fresh bay leaf, fresh thyme sprigs, a few garlic cloves, an apple, jalapeños, allspice berries and peppercorns. Do not stress too much peeling or prepping this as it will all be discarded.
  • For the glaze: marmalade, mustard of your choice, black onion seeds, fresh red fruit chilli, we used a rocoto.
Simmer for 20 mins per 500g
  1. Soak the ham overnight as the salt levels could be high. Discard the water.
  2. Put the ham in a big old pot, add enough water to cover and bring to the boil. Discard the water and start again. More salt management.
  3. Add more water, the liquor flavourings: and bring to the boil again.
  4. Reduce the heat until gently simmering. Cook for 20 mins per 500g.
  5. Remove the ham and let it sit for 20 mins. This just lets it cool down a bit and then it is easier to handle. The remaining stock will make a wonderful pea and ham soup.
  6. Prepare the glaze by mixing the ingredients together. Quantities really depend on the size of your ham.
  7. Carefully slice away the skin. Leave the fat and score in a diamond pattern.
  8. Gently apply the glaze, trying to get in between the criss cross lines.
  9. Bake in a 180 0 C oven for about 30 mins. Keep checking as the sugar in the marmalade could darken quickly.
  10. Take out the ham and try really hard not to eat it all in one go. One nibble won’t hurt though.