This is a wonderful recipe. Perfect for a very special dinner for two or a flash dinner party. Notwithstanding its fabulous appearance, it is extremely easy to prepare. All you have to do at the last minute, is cook the lamb which is minimal hands-on work.
If you haven’t used sumac, don’t be overwhelmed by the amount. It is not overpowering. The first time I made this recipe I was really nervous but quickly learned the dish can cope with a good coating of sumac on the lamb.
Lamb back strap is expensive. If you can’t bring yourself to spend that sort of money, consider lamb fillets or lamb rump. One backstrap was enough for Maus and me. If using fillets, you will need two.
I am afraid I can’t remember the source of this recipe. It is one that I cut out of a magazine long ago.
- 1 decent sized lamb back strap (or fillet or rump)
- approximately 50g sumac (this seems like a lot but hold your nerve)
- parsley, for serving
- fresh pomegranate seeds, for serving
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas (I peel mine but you need not)
- 200mls chicken stock
- 250g crushed tomatoes
- half a brown onion, sliced
- 1tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 3 garlic cloves,crushed
- 8 dates, chopped
- salt and pepper
- 100mls natural yoghurt
- pinch of salt
- half a bunch of fresh mint
- Mix yoghurt with a pinch of salt.
- Place in a colander that has been lined with a moist cloth, tie cloth and allow to drain for several hours.
- Chop the mint and mix through the labne. Set aside.
- Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan.
- Saute the onion until soft and translucent. Do not brown. If need be, add a bit of water to stop the onion sticking.
- Add the garlic and spices and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and tomatoes.
- Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
- Add the dates and chickpeas. Stir to combine.
- Season to taste and keep warm.
- Trim the lamb of sinew then roll it in the sumac.
- Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan (which will fit in your oven)
- Add the lamb and sear on both sides.
- Place pan in a hot oven (220°C) for approximately 15 minutes (my lamb ended up well done – if you like it rare, reduce the time).
- Remove from oven and allow to rest in a warm place.
- Place a mound of the chickpea braise in the centre of each plate.
- Slice the lamb and place on top of the chickpea braise.
- Place a dollop of labne on the lamb.
- Sprinkle with fresh parsley and some pomegranate seeds.