This is a classic combination of lamb and prunes, found across many cultures and cooking styles. This particular recipe is from the north west of Iran, near the border with Turkey. It is totally delicious and relatively easy. I found the recipe in the magnificent book ‘Nightingales and Roses’ by Maryam Sinaiee. Of course, we don’t have 100% of the ingredients in South Uist, but she makes suggestions that helped me to adapt to local circumstances.
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 400g lamb neck fillets or lean tender lamb (I used boned lamb chops)
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp madras curry powder
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 8 dried apricots, chopped in half
- 2 medium potatoes, cubed
- 3 tsp salt
- 100g yellow split peas
- 8 prunes
- Oil to fry the potatoes.
- Heat 2 tbsp cooking oil in a heavy pan, and fry the onions over a medium heat until they are browning.
- Add the meat, turmeric and curry powder, and continue to stir and cook until the meat is browned.
- Add the tomato paste, cook for another couple of minutes, and then cover the meat in boiling water. Bring to the boil and simmer for an hour and a half, until the meat is tender.
- Meanwhile, soak the apricots in water for at least 30 minutes
- Meanwhile, cook the yellow peas – put them in a small saucepan and cover with water, and simmer over a low heat. The peas should be soft but still firm. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Meanwhile, peel and dice the potatoes, and put them in cold water with the salt.
- When the meat is nearly tender, drain the apricots and add to the stew along with the prunes and split peas. Add a little water if needed to make sure all the ingredients are covered. Bring back to the boil and continue to simmer until the peas are soft.
- About 30 minutes before serving, check for seasoning. Drain the potatoes, and fry them in hot oil for about 10 to 15 minutes until golden and crispy.
Serve the stew with the fried potatoes on top. This goes well with plain rice.
This is a twist on a classic combination, created by substituting ingredients from the fridge. We have storms this week, with a high risk of no food deliveries onto the island, and I didn’t want to use the last of the milk to make this soup, so I used Greek yogurt instead.
- 1 large leek
- 1 potato, diced
- 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic (optional)
- 25g butter
- 300 ml hot marigold stock
- 200 ml yogurt
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp dry sherry
- Clean the leek, and chop finely; start by cutting lengthways into 4, then slicing.
- In a largish pan, melt the butter, and add the leek, onion, potato and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and cook on a very low heat for around 10 minutes or more.
- Add the yoghurt and the stock, and bring back to a simmer. Simmer for a further 15 to 20 minutes, so that the vegetables are very soft.
- Use a soup wand or blender to make a very smooth soup. Add the sherry, and check the seasoning.
- You could garnish with chopped herbs, but it was delicious without.
I served this with homemade oatcakes.
We live on a small island, and although our local shops generally do very well for range and price of stock, some ingredients are hard to come by. I have some rather exotic recipe books, and so I have become better at substituting and messing around with recipes to make them fit.
Pomegranate molasses adds a fruity sharpness to the dish, and helps the dressing to stick to the carrots. The harissa is hot and fragrant at the same time.
This time, I had some random carrots, so I turned to Ottolenghi’s book, Simple, and adapted one of his ideas, and I made this. I served it with bread, cheese, and an aubergine dish.
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp rose harissa (or ordinary harissa)
- 1 tbsp olive oil (or 50/50 melted butter and oil)
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 400g carrot batons
- Coriander leaves to garnish
- Heat the oven to 220C
- In a small bowl, mix the cumin, honey, harissa, oil and molasses with a good pinch of salt. It should be the consistency of mayonnaise.
- Add the carrot batons, and stir to coat in the mixture
- Line a baking sheet with tin foil, and spread out the carrots. Roast them for 15 minutes or so, until they are beginning to brown but still have some ‘bite’ to them.
Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with coriander leaves.
This is the last of the five recipes that I learned in Turkey, at Cookistan. There was another recipe for poached stuffed artichoke hearts, but artichokes are not readily available locally, so I think I will stop with this one. This is so easy; filling, tasty and vegan.
In this recipe, the addition of the wheat to the lentils adds texture to the mixture, so that it can be formed into small and tasty kofte balls.
- 200g red lentils
- 2 to 3 cups of water
- 125g fine bulgur wheat
- 60 ml olive oil
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp pepper paste
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 spring onions
- a handful each of mint, parsley and dill
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- salt and pepper
- Rinse the red lentils then boil them in the water; bring the water and lentils to the boil, then turn down to simmer, partially covered until they are soft. There should be a little water left at the top of the cooked lentils.
- Add the bulgur wheat and mix well.
- Fry the chopped onions in olive oil until soft, then add the tomato and pepper paste and continue to fry for another minute, before adding the spices.
- Add the onion mixture to the lentil mixture and stir to combine.
- Chop the herbs and spring onions finely, and add to the lentil mixture, season and mix well. You might need more than a teaspoonful of salt to taste.
- Form the mixture into kofte balls; take large walnut sized pieces of the mixture, and shape into small ovals.
- Serve the kofte balls on a bed of lettuce leaves.
These taste better the following day, when the flavours have developed. They are very filling, and completely vegan.
This was a portmanteau of a recipe. I had several recipes that looked very similar, so I took ideas from each one. This tastes really good and it is filling. We served it with kale braised in butter and pepper.
- 2 cans of chickpeas
- 2 large onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp sweet pepper puree
- 1 tbsp baharat spice mix
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp date syrup or pomegranate molasses
- OPTIONAL – 2 green peppers, chopped, or 450g spinach, chopped and cooked
- Salt and pepper
- Chopped mint and parsley, to garnish
- Chop the onions finely, crush the garlic, and cook slowly in the olive oil for at least 10 minutes
- Add the Baharat spice mix. If you are using green peppers, slice them thinly and add them to the onions, and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, pepper puree, and bring to a simmer.
- Add the chickpeas, and simmer until they are hot and tender.
- Add the salt, pepper, lemon juice and date syrup or pomegranate molasses. Adjust the quantities to taste. If you are using spinach, stir this in now.
- Garnish with chopped herbs before serving. This can be served hot or cold.