Sarah suggested I start posting recipes for some of the things I cook. I realized that I don’t measure anything when I cook, so it might be difficult to post the way I go about it. However, I will give it a shot- I find learning about other peoples cooking techniques alone is interesting, so hopefully you will find it to be too!
1 ½ pounds lamb, cut into cubes
½ cup pomegranate molasses
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons each of:
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
one medium sized onion, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 cups basmati rice
2/3 cup vermicelli (you could skip this if you don’t have it on hand!)
¼ cup ghee/semna or oil- olive or vegetable works fine
½ cup each of each, but you could substitute other nuts if you wanted:
-roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
Crank your oven up to 425 and pull out a dutch oven or covered casserole dish. To start off, combine the olive oil and half of the pomegranate molasses in a small bowl. Combine all spices plus salt in pepper in a separate bowl. Dunk each lamb cube in the olive oil/molasses mixture and then cover in spices and put in your dutch oven. Put the dutch oven, uncovered, in the hot oven for about 20 minutes, or until the lamb is fragrant, browning and producing juices. Pull out the dutch oven and turn the oven down to 300. Pour water over the lamb until it is covered, and add the onion and garlic. I usually scrape the bottom of the dutch oven to pull up those yummy lamb flavor particles. Add the rest of the pomegranate molasses. If you are feeling sassy, throw in some cinnamon sticks and bruised cardamom pods- FYI, I’m always sassy about cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods.
Cover the dutch oven, stick it back in the 300 degree oven, and be prepared to wait. This lamb is best if you give it 3 to 3 ½ hours in the oven. While it is cooking, every once and a while I pull it out to check its progress- if the liquid starts to reduce and expose the meat, pour some more water over it and stick it back in the oven. This type of lamb usually becomes pretty edible about an hour in; but if you have the time, wait it out- I find the results after 3 ½ hours of cooking are well worth it!
When I figure there is about ½ hour to go on the lamb, I start the rice. First, I always soak my rice for a few hours in a bowl of water- this softens the kernel and helps release the flavor, which is really nice with basmati or jasmine rice. Pull out a non-stick sauce pan, and throw half of that fat (either that ghee or oil) in the bottom of the pan over medium heat. Toss in the vermicelli, and make sure to stir it because it will start to burn quickly. When it is a golden brown, toss in your drained rice and turn up the heat a bit. You want to keep stirring the rice until it starts to color a bit and soften.
Here comes the eye-balling part: Pull the dutch oven out and pull off some of the stock. I use a little Turkish coffee pot because you can stick it in the pan and it is nice and pourable. Take as much as you can get, and replace the stock with some more water, and put the dutch oven back in the oven. Pour the stock over the rice- you want to cover it by about ¾ to 1 inch. So, if you have too much stock, don’t keep pouring. If you don’t have enough, admit defeat and use water. Stir the liquid into the rice and give that stock a taste- if you need salt, add a little.
Turn the heat up and bring the rice to a rolling boil. If you are STILL feelings sassy, throw in some cardamom pods. Then cover and reduce to low. Whatever you do, don’t lift the lid for at least 20 minuets!
Throw a little of what ever fat you used in a skillet, and dump in the nuts. I salt them a bit as well, as nuts tend to come unsalted here. Once they start to brown, throw in the golden raisins- watch those carefully because they can burn quickly and turn into angry brown bombs. Once everything is fragrant, turn off the heat and set to the side.
The rice should be getting close to done after about 20 minutes. Its not an exact science I find- thus I make sure my rice pot has a glass lid. If it is looking fluffy and good, go ahead and lift the lid off and taste it. If it needs more time, stick the lid back on and admit defeat again and be patient.
When the rice is ready to go, scoop it onto a serving platter. Spoon the lamb over the rice, and cover with the nuts and raisins! I will admit, this photo features some delicious boiled quail eggs… and if you look, there are golden flakes of the much coveted crust from the bottom of the rice pan!