Sumac crusted lamb with braised chickpeas, mint labne and pomegranate

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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.

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

Lamb:

  • 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

Chickpea Braise:

  • 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

Labne:

  • 100mls natural yoghurt
  • pinch of salt
  • half a bunch of fresh mint

Method:

Labne:

  1. Mix yoghurt with a pinch of salt.
  2. Place in a colander that has been lined with a moist cloth, tie cloth and allow to drain for several hours.
  3. Chop the mint and mix through the labne.  Set aside.

Chickpea Braise:

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan.
  2. Saute the onion until soft and translucent. Do not brown.  If need be, add a bit of water to stop the onion sticking.
  3. Add the garlic and spices and sauté for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken stock and tomatoes.
  5. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  6. Add the dates and chickpeas.  Stir to combine.
  7. Season to taste and keep warm.

Lamb:

  1. Trim the lamb of sinew then roll it in the sumac.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan (which will fit in your oven)
  3. Add the lamb and sear on both sides.
  4. 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).
  5. Remove from oven and allow to rest in a warm place.

To Serve:

  1. Place a mound of the chickpea braise in the centre of each plate.
  2. Slice the lamb and place on top of the chickpea braise.
  3. Place a dollop of labne on the lamb.
  4. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and some pomegranate seeds.

10 thoughts on “Sumac crusted lamb with braised chickpeas, mint labne and pomegranate

  1. Sumac is one of my favourite spices especially when its fresh and still very zingy! Try sprinkling it on buttery basmati rice next time a la Persian style, yum yum yum! Love the braised chickpeas, I could eat just them as a complete meal!

  2. This looks fabulous and tasty. I am a fan of sumac. I love it sprinkled on fresh avocado on toast for breakfast, but forget to think about it when I’m cooking with meat. I’m going to have to give this combo a go and test it out 🙂

    • Hi Debi, the first time I made this dish, which was many years ago, I had never used sumac. It was a dinner party and I was so nervous about what the sumac would taste like. All was well, it gave me confidence to use it with gay abandon.

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