#Loobia #Polow with Indian #meatballs

Loobia or Lubia Polo is a very popular Persian comfort dish.

It is a rice dish traditionally layered with green beans, spiced ground meat, tomatoes, herbs, and infused with saffron.

I discovered recipes for the traditional version when looking for something interesting to do with the Indian meatballs I had in the freezer and the big bag of green beans in the fridge!

A bit like an Iranian version of an Indian Pilaf or Briyani it seemed to me.

So I embarked on developing my version with the Indian Meatballs I had but these could more authentically replaced with lamb or beef mince. Have to say my version works really well but you have to make the meatballs first so is an extra step.

I made this a few months ago and tweeted a pic of the finished version and it has attracted more than 20,000 impressions! My most ever…so I thought I had to share the recipe! Hopefully you’ll like it too!?

Like Briyani it takes quite a few steps but worth it!

Prep time with meatballs: 1 hour including making and cooking meatballs, 25 minutes if using mince.

Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

    200g green beans cut into thirds
    2 tomatoes chopped
    2 onions – I finely diced, 1 halved then thinly sliced
    3 cloves garlic and 2 red chillies ground to a paste
    1 cinnamon stick
    Handful of curry leaves (optional
    1/2 teaspoon cummin seeds
    2 dried chillies (optional)
    1 teaspoon cummin powder
    1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    1.5 cups rice
    1 tspoon Saffron threads soaked in warm water
    Salt
    2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
    Plain yoghurt
    Coriander to garnish

Method

1. If using meatballs, Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius, use recipe to make the meatballs (but don’t make the chutney in that recipe! Just the meatballs) and cook meatballs for only 10 minutes or just until they are browned and sealed on the outside as they will cook fully in step blow.

2. While meatballs are cooking prepare other ingredients. Pound garlic and chillies, slice and chop onions and keep separated, chop tomatoes.

3. Par boil rice in salted water with saffron until half cooked. Drain and set aside.

4. In a heavy based casserole dish or pan, heat vegetable oil then add cinammon stick, diced onions, cummin seeds, dried chilli and curry leaves if using , cook slowly until onions go transparent.

5. Add garlic, chilli paste and cummin and turmeric to onion mixture and mix through over medium heat.

(6. If using mince, add mince to onions now and sauté until mince breaks up and Browns.)

7. Add tomatoes and green beans. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup of water. Simmer until tomatoes start to break down about 3-4 minutes. Add another 1/2 cup water if needed.

8. If using meatballs, add them now.

9. Simmer mixture for 10 minutes to allow meatballs to absorb flavours and sauce to thicken. If using mince, then simmer for an extra 5 minutes.

10. While mixture is simmering fry thinly sliced onions in butter or oil until golden brown and slightly caramelised.

11. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

12. In a ovenproof dish, preferably a deep dish with a lid, smear bottom and sides with some oil then add a layer of rice, then sprinkle with some onions, then add a layer of the meat and beat mixture, repeat until mixture and rice is finished. Reserve some onions for the top.

13. Pour 1/2 cup of water evenly across the dish. Cover dish with foil not touching onions, and place lid on top to seal.

14. Place in oven to cook rice and allow flavours to permeate through rice for about 20 minutes. Check to see that rice is cooked but still fluffy.

15. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with yoghurt, pickles and salad.

This version doesn’t give you the burnt crispy bottom that is traditional of Loobia Polow but this could be achieved by finishing the dish off by cooking in a pot on the stove for last step instead of in oven.

Baked Eggs with Merguez Sausages and Chilli

Looking for a spicy start to the new year? Here’s my take on middle-eastern eggs with Lamb Merguez sausages made at our local butcher. (Nick’s Meats at Edgecliff Shopping. Centre for those of you who live in Sydney.)

Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (2 servings)

3 large merguez sausages
1 red onion halved then sliced
1/2 teaspoon cummin powder
2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
1-red chillies finely chopped
1-2 tomatoes halved or if using only one, then cut into 4 thick slices
4 teaspoons butter
Olive oil
Salt
coriander to garnish
Pita bread or tortillas to serve

Method:

1. Cook merguez sausages in a frying pan on medium heat 10-15 minutes until cooked.Rest and then cut into thick diagonal slices.

2. meanwhile heat 2-3 tablespoons of oilive oil in a separate frying pan, then fry garlic until crispy, add onions and chillies and fry until onions are slightly caramelised and translucent.


3. Remove onions and add tomatoes to the same pan, adding a bit more oilive oil if needed. sprinkle each side of the tomatoes with a pinch of cummin powder and salt as you are cooking them. You don’t want the tomatoes to break up, just brown on each side and keep their shape.

4. Place half the onions, tomatoes, sausages to reheat in a medium size frying pan or 2 seperate ovenproof dishes (leaving 2 “holes” for the eggs), add 2 teaspoons of butter to the pan, then break 2 eggs into the holes and swivel the pan or dish gently to allow egg white to reach edges of pan.

5. Place pan under hot grill and bake until eggs are cooked to your liking, preferably leaving yolks runny, garnish with coriander, eat with warm pita bread or tortillas.

Victor Churchill – Haute Couture butcher in Sydney

Going to Victor Churchill’s “Haute Couture” butcher shop in Woollahra, Sydney is always inspirational and it is very difficult to leave without a delicious treat in hand.

It is a total experience, being able to watch the master butchers at work and ogle the mind bogglingly array of super-delicious products. Or better still go home with some of it!

Their is a special air drying room producing delicious charcuterie and their is also House smoked salmon and trout.

If you are feeling really indulgent or running out of time, you can order home dining – certain cuts of meat and chicken are cooked on their rotisserie and word is that their roast potatoes are delicious. They also offer charcuterie platters. Their desserts are just as divine as the rest with mouth-watering meringue tarts and more to tempt.

Today it was their Terrine de Campagne that enticed us. Here’s a taste of what you can expect.

Or visit http://www.victorchurchill.com

Definitely worth a visit especially if you are looking for the best quality meats and unusual cuts.

Durban-style Lamb and Cabbage Curry

This is another favourite amongst South African Indian families. It’s a great dish for a wintry Sunday like it is here in Sydney today.

The sweetness of the cabbage permeates this dish and the resulting curry is somehow more fragrant and lighter than most lamb curries. Flavouring the oil through the gentle frying of the fenugreek, cummin and nigella seeds along with the cinnamon and curry leaves provides the basis for this.

The addition of fresh and dried chillies add an extra warming spicy element but by no means is this required if you prefer a milder sweeter curry.

The curry sauce is thinner than usual as well so rice is the best accompaniment, and Mint and Peanut Chutney is a delicious alongside it. I suppose this is the Indian version of Norwegian Farikal or Irish Lamb and Cabbage stew.

Prep time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour
Ingredients:

750g lamb cut into chunks, or for best results lamb chump chops with fat removed and diced keeping bones in
1 large onion chopped
1 tomato chopped
2 dried chillies and/or 2 fresh red chillies left whole(optional)
5 cloves garlic and equal amount peeled ginger, crushed into a paste
3 tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil
2 sticks cinnamon bark
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
Handful of fresh curry leaves (optional)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon cummin powder
1/2 teaspoon fennel powder
1 teaspoon salt or salt to your taste
1/2 a whole cabbage sliced finely
2 cups chicken stock or water
Coriander chopped for garnish

Method:

1. Heat vegetable oil over medium heat in heavy based casserole pot.

2. Add cinnamon sticks, cummin and nigella seeds and curry leaves and heat through until fragrant, taking care not to burn spices. (This process flavours the oil)

3. Add onions and cook slowly over medium heat until transparent.

4. Add ginger and garlic paste and cook for 1 minute,stirring through onions.

5, Add turmeric, chilli, cummin and fennel powder, as well as salt, and stir briskly to mix well into onion mixture heating spices but once again taking care not to burn.

6. Add chopped tomatoes, died and fresh chillies if using, and lamb, stirring to coat lamb well in spices and to brown/seal the meat, before adding enough chicken stock or water to cover lamb.

7. Bring to the boil, the lower heat and simmer gently for 35-40 minutes until lamb is almost tender.

8. Add sliced cabbage and cook for 10-15 minutes until cabbage is tender and sauce reduces. (If you do want to thicken sauce you can add 2 teaspoons of cornflour mixed into a smooth paste with some water and simmer for 3-4 minutes stirring well)

9. Taste to see if additional salt is required.

10. Garnish with coriander and serve hot with basmati rice.

Persian inspired Lamb Shanks with paprika, saffron and rosewater

This is my version of Persian lamb shanks slow cooked in a mixture of lime juice, orange juice, rosewater, saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, paprika, pepper, thyme, garlic and saffron. The combination of spices and citrus permeates the lamb and the resulting dish is fragrant and delicious.

Don’t be scared off by the long list of ingredients, the end result is worth the preparation and slow cooking.

We had these with a spinach salad with orange segments and pomegranate seeds which complemented the flavours of the lamb perfectly. It would also go well with Caramelised Brussel Sprout, spinach and pomegranate salad.

A definite new favourite winter comfort food dish!

Preparation time: 1.5 hours Cooking time: 2-2.5 hours

Ingredients:
4 frenched lamb shanks

Powdered/ ground spices:
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Fragrant mix:
2 teaspoons saffron threads
1 teaspoon rosewater
Juice of 2 limes
Zest of 2 limes
Juice of half an orange
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup warm water

Braising ingredients:
1 litre chicken stock
4 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
1 large onion finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 bunch thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil

Garnish:
Chopped mint, parsley and/or coriander, and extra orange zest

Method:

1. Place lamb shanks in a large bowl and add powdered and ground spices. Using rubber gloves thoroughly rub spices into lamb shanks and allow to marinade for at least and hour.

2. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

3.Put saffron threads in seperate bowl and add 1/2 cup warm water, rosewater, lime juice, orange juice and let this infuse for at least ten minutes.

3. Chop onions, finely slice onions, and strip thyme leaves off stems.

4. Heat oil in large casserole pot, brown lamb shanks 2 at a time ensuring a nice “crust” forms and set aside.

5. Remove excess oil from pot, leaving only a thin layer of oil to cook onions and garlic in.

6. Sautée onions and garlic over medium heat, adding salt to mixture, cook until soft and translucent.

7. Add bay leaves, thyme, orange and lime zest and add back lamb shanks and mix through.

8. Cover lamb shanks with hot chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer on stovetop for 10 minutes.

9. Cover pot with lid in pre-heated oven for 2-2.5 hours until lamb is tender and falling off the bone.

10. Remove lamb shanks from pot and set aside in cooling oven.

11. Strain stock mixture that is left in the pot and return strained sauce to pot to reduce to a thick jus.

12. You can serve shanks as is with jus poured over or shred the lamb and serve with jus on the side. Garnish with parsley or coriander and serve with rice and/or couscous and salad.

Lamb Xacuti – Goan curry

Cooking this recipe was inspired by the beautiful story and recipe posted by The Storyteller’s Kitchen Chicken Xacuti but I made it tonight using lamb. It was certainly very delicious and is easy to make but does involve quite a number of steps for the three seperate spice mixes involved.

I didn’t have any mace so just gave it a miss but the original recipe calls for it to be included in the masala (dry spice mix).

I have added extra coriander and curry leaves and was pleased with the result.

I have also divided the recipe up into the different components into groups to help follow the recipe. Hope it helps!

This is almost like an Indian version of Indonesian rendang except sharper tasting through the use of green chillies and lots of fresh coriander. We had a tangy cucumber, tomato, carrot and spinach salad with it and plain basmati rice. A very More-ish dish!

Prep time: 35 minutes Cooking time: 60 minutes Resting time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Coriander Spice Marinade:
8 garlic cloves
1.5 cm piece of ginger
6 small green chilies
1/2 bunch of coriander
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
1 teaspoon turmeric

Coconut and onion paste:
1/3 cup of desiccated coconut
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil

Spice Masala:
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
7-8 cloves
7-8 black peppercorns
1 star anise
7-8 dried red chillies
2 small pieces cinnamon bark broken into bits
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder

Meat:
1kg lamb on the bone – I use 5-6 lamb chump chops with the fat removed and diced into small chunks with the bone left in

Braising mixture:
3 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil
Handful curry leaves
1 large onion finely diced
1 tomato roughly chopped
2-3 cups water
1 cup coriander leaves ground to paste

Garnish:
Coriander chopped
2-3 small Green chillies chopped

Method:

1. Chop all ingredients for marinade, then grind ingredients into a paste, chop meat, add marinade to meat and marinate for 30-45 minutes

2. Dry roast dry spices for Masala in a small non-stick pan over medium heat until fragrant, allow to cool then grind to a fine powder in spice blender or coffee grinder – set aside

3. In the same pan, dry fry desiccated coconut over gentle heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning, until golden brown. Then add 2 tablespoons oil and fry 1 diced onion until browned. Allow onion and coconut to cool, then grind together in mortar and pestle until onion is melted into coconut into a thick paste. Set aside

4. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottom casserole pot with a lid, then add curry leaves and fry until just fragrant, then add diced onion and fry until golden brown stirring to ensure onion doesn’t burn. Add tomato and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until tomatoes have disintegrated and oil reappears.

5. Add lamb mixture and additional ground coriander paste and 1 cup of water to onion and tomato mixture and boil for 15 minutes.

6. Add Masala mix and coconut-onion paste and another cup of water and simmer for another 25 minutes until lamb is really tender.

7. Take off heat, allow to rest for 30 minutes, garnish with coriander and green chillies and serve.