Long before any of the current hipster chefs started promoting the delights of Middle Eastern food, there was Claudia Roden. She was the Cairo-born writer who, many years ago, introduced me and countless others to making wonderfully authentic Turkish, Persian, Lebanese and Moroccan dishes at home. I’ve pimped this one up a little as I prefer my dishes quite spicy but this is pretty sublime.
You will need…
- 500g baby onions or shallots, peeled and left whole
- 1 kg lamb neck fillet cut into thick ‘coins’
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 6 whole garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- 100 ml chicken stock
- A pinch salt and black pepper
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 medium aubergines – sliced into rounds
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp dried mint – the Turkish kind preferably
- Optional: fresh chopped mint to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 160°C.
- Brush the aubergines with a little oil and cook them under a hot grill or on a griddle pan.
- Heat the oil in a heavy, cast iron casserole on the hob. Brown the lamb pieces and set aside.
- Fry the onions and garlic in the lamb fat and olive oil.
- Add the meat back in with the stock, spices, salt, pepper and the chilli flakes. Cook in the oven for an hour or so until quite tender. Neck fillet doesn’t take long to cook.
- Stir in the vinegar, mint and the aubergines. Add a little more water or stock if the sauce is too thick.
- Cook for another 20 minutes.
- Taste for seasoning, adjust to taste.
- Serve with basmati rice and garnish with chopped fresh mint.