Lamb stew from South Africa

So it’s official. The real winter has finally arrived. The temperature has dropped below -10C and the world out there is completely white. As much as I shiver every time I look outside of the window, still I really enjoy the frost, but only when accompanied by sunshine. The world is then just like taken straight from a fairy tale. Tiny particles of ice shine like little diamonds all over the trees. For such weather there is nothing better than the ultimate winter dish – stew. Slowly cooked meat in a flavorful sauce is surely one of the best comfort foods in such weather. I’ve found this delicious recipe on Fork Spoon Knife blog and changed it slightly according to the contents of my fridge ;). Below you’ll find my version of the mouthwatering South African lamb bredie.

 

INGREDIENTS:

 

400g of lamb shoulder, diced into cubes

butter

400g can of tomatoes

2 red chilies, diced fine

2 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes

100ml beef stock

5 whole black peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick, cut in half

6-7 whole cloves

4-5 cardamom pods, very slightly crushed

1 tsp brown sugar

salt, pepper as needed

100g  peas

 

Marinade:

finger sized ginger piece, grated

2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

salt and pepper


1. Marinade the meat overnight.

2. Dry roast the cloves, cinnamon and whole peppercorns, set aside once they are fragrant. Brown the meat in a little bit of butter in a cast iron pot. Add the tomatoes, chilli, cardamom, stock, salt and pepper and stir well. Slowcook the meat in the oven in about 120C for 2-3h.

3. Once the meet starts to become soft and fall apart, add the potatoes and cook till they are soft. Add peas, return to the oven for several more minutes. Serve with rice.

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Istanbul’s street food

You can have great eats no matter if you dine in a fine restaurant or in a shabby bar in Istanbul, but since it is the street food that shows the soul of a city, that’s what I would like to focus on. I bet that as soon as you think of Turkey you just see kebabs. But there’s much more than that 😉 First of all amazing sea food. There are lots of restaurants where you can enjoy some amazing dishes and mezes (I’ve never eaten before so amazingly delicate squid!). But street bars also offer  some delights. In previous post about Istanbul there is a pic of people who enjoy fishing for sardines – hamsi. If you don’t have your rod while visiting the city, and I bet you don’t, you can anyway enjoy those small jewels of the sea by eating in one of many tiny bars serving fresh deep fried hamsi – so simple, yet so delicious! In the nights the streets become full of vendors trying to sell smoked mackerels and superb mussels filled in with pilaf – that’s a must try when you’re in Istanbul! You’re surrounded by two seas and a Bosphorus trait so be prepared for eating tons of fish!

Ok, so Turkey is a truly carnivorous country. Though you’ll find there some delish vege food as well, the main focus is on meat. Kebabs are known worldwide but there are some other particular delicacies to be sought for. One day we  wondered into Fatih district of Istanbul where foreigners are not a common sight. We went there because of one particular dish – pit oven roasted suckling lambs. There are several restaurants there serving this delicious meat and they were full. No wonder, the meat was amazingly tender and tasty. I can say without any doubt that it was the best lamb dish I ever had in my life! The lamb is cut into small chunks, topped with lavash – turkish kind of pizza as I like to call it 😉 and served together with foamy ayran – a yogurt based beverage.

The post wouldn’t be complete if I wouldn’t mention offal. The dishes with it are really abundant in Turkey. What  a pity  that in the Western countries we seem to forget how tasty those parts can be. In my family for example we were not used to cook with offal, not even liver! And I know most of my friends had same situation in their homes when they were young. I believe that often the things you’re not exposed to in your youth are then the ones that make you feel scared or disguised. So many people will not try them by themselves once they are grownups. Luckily, I’m a curious person and though at the beginning I felt a bit weird about eating offal I always want to try new things, and once I tried I must say that if prepared well it’s delicious! It’s such a pity that offal is in many counties a very neglected food. And I don’t mean only the various flavors we miss, I just feel that by eating some offal from time to time we would decrease the amount of animals that need to be killed. Nowadays just several cuts are popular and most people cook with those. Of course the rest is never really wasted but what if instead of sending those parts to be minced for fodder we will eat it by ourselves? May seem like a minimal impact for animal welfare and environment but even such matters!

Once you’re wondering in Istanbul during the small hours you’ll be stunned by the amount of street food offered to help your grumbling belly. One of the comfort foods is a stew with sheep brains. Just next to our hotel there was a bar serving this delicacy and we could see day by day cooks patiently peeling off skull bones to fulfill the locals’ cravings. Ok, so I must admit that though I like to try offal, brain is a definite no for me – I guess it’s mostly psychological barrier, but I like to say that since I work with brains on daily basis I need to separate my professional and private life and therefore won’t eat those 😉 We had instead just a delicious basic kebab wrap (note that when grilling they put flat-breads on top so that the juices will soak into them).

Ok anyway, let’s go back to what offal we actually ate in Istanbul 😉 Of course we had kebabs made of liver and they were absolutely amazing! Delicate meet with a hint of sweetness, perfect. But the staple street food I want to write about is kokoreç. It is simply tripe grilled over charcoal fire, cut in tiny pieces, put inside the bun with fresh tomatoes and loads of sumac and pepper. At the beginning I was a bit skeptical as I have seen tripe being soaked at the butchers. It was grayish with bits of undigested grass, what else to say – gross. But once we took a first bite of it, we immediately stood in the queue to get a second portion 😉

How to slow roast lamb plus a quick Mediterranean leftover salad

Mediterranean flavours inspired salad with slow roasted lamb

I’ve just noticed that till now I’ve blogged either about sweets or about Asian inspired dishes. I admit, we love to use lots of spices as well as have combined sweet, sour and salty flavors together, just as it is done in that part of the world, but it doesn’t mean that we’re eating only like that 😉 So here, finally, is something more European. A slow roasted lamb and still a second recipe for Mediterranean salad with the roast leftovers.

We don’t eat lamb that often. Or actually by that I mean we don’t eat it at all. Usually, I order it when we go to a restaurant, but Mr No Onion Please firmly states that he dislikes this meat, cause it is bitter (has anyone ever heard that lamb has some bitter aftertaste?). I understand if he said “stinky”, cause I guess that’s the most often heard complaint, but BITTER? Well anyway, once I got the permission to finally buy some lamb I decided to slow roast it, as I hoped that it will mellow the whatever taste there is that makes Mr No Onion Please shudder. In his book “Jamie’s Kitchen”, Jamie Oliver describes how it should be done. I’ve just added some lemon to flavour it nicely and otherwise followed exactly his recipe.

Ingredients:

2kg lamb meat for roast (leg or shoulder)

olive oil

salt & pepper

bunch of rosemary

bulb of garlic unpeeled, broken into cloves

lemon cut in wedges

1. Preheat your oven to the highest grade possible. Score the skin (beware not to disturb the meat), splash with olive oil and rub it with lots of salt and pepper.

2. Press the garlic cloves with knife so that they crush a bit. Place the meat on the roasting tray together with rosemary, garlic and lemon (place those around and on top of the meat).

3. Tightly cover the tray with tinfoil and place it in the oven. Immediately turn the oven down to 170C and cook for 4h.

Yup, simple as that, no fuss at all and of course slow roasting rewards you with delicious meat that melts in your mouth. And yeah, according to Mr No Onion Please there’s no bitterness anymore (if there ever was any 😉 ). Now, when you roast 2kg piece of meat, obviously there will be quite some leftovers. But that’s not a problem really cause I have here for you a truly refreshing salad recipe.

I must say, I’m really bad when it comes to salad recipes, as I basically just throw things together and I simply can’t give you any proper measures on how much of what you need. But hey, I bet most of you do it same way, so just toss the things together as you usually do and you’ll get a great Mediterranean flavours inspired lamb salad.

Ingredients

green stuff (oh how lovely descriptive is that 😉 ) – I used watercress since it’s in season

cucumber – sliced, then cut into sticks

2 red bell peppers, cut in half, deseeded, brushed with oil and baked till soft, skin removed, torned to smaller pieces

feta cheese, cubed

sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped

big bunch of mint, shredded

pieces of roast lamb

olive oil + a pinch of sweet paprika