Seasonings Greetings (3 ways with dukkah)

[Recipe 1] PISTACHIO and ALMOND DUKKAH transforms into
[Recipe 2] SPICED LAMB PIZZA (lahm bi ajine)

It seriously feels like we packed away the Christmas tree two months ago. I cannot BELIEVE we’re half-way through November. Yikes!
Every Christmas I make a massive batch of something sweet or spicy to pop into jars for teachers, family and friends. Za’atar was popular, and dukkah is equally tasty and a cinch to whip up and package; especially if you employ child labour in your home, as we do.
I buy my fabric pieces at Amitié – they have a huge basket of off-cuts, the perfect size for topping jars. The raw tangerine string is from Araliya. It’s handmade from coconut fibre, and it was a birthday pressie (thanks Chris)!
For a more substantial gift, a small spice bowl could be added – Ingrid Tufts makes beautiful little hand-thrown porcelain condiment bowls.
My dukkah is adapted from Greg Malouf’s recipe in one of my most thumbed-through, dog-eared cookbooks, Arabesque. I made a couple of adjustments, replacing the hazelnuts with toasted pistachios and almonds (I’m far too lazy to skin a bulk load of hazelnuts). I also used less salt, adding a touch of thyme. Dried thyme is great for adding a salt-like kick to spice blends.
Dukkah is a flavour explosion! It can be sprinkled with gay abandon on just about anything; including poached eggs, salad or veggies (eg. my roasted cauliflower and chestnuts with dukkah).
Here are three more great ways to use dukkah. You’ll find the recipes below.
Spiced lamb pizza is a traditional Lebanese treat which usually contains allspice and/or cumin. In my humble opinion dukkah tastes even better.
Spiced honey dukkah popcorn is salty, sweet, spicy and incredibly moreish. We had fun experimenting and taste-testing this recipe – four enormous bowls, now gone!
Char-grilled dukkah lamb is a family favourite, and quick to prepare. Served with tahini sauce and tray-roasted veggies, it makes a super-tasty, healthy meal. Leftover roasted veggies and lamb, if any, can be tossed through a simple rocket, freekeh or couscous salad, and dressed with tahini sauce. We often cook up double the lamb and veggies for this purpose. Enjoy!

Pistachio dukkah. One Equals Two.3 ways with dukkah. By One Equals Two. Home-made pistachio dukkah. One Equals Two.[Recipe 1] Pistachio and almond dukkah

Ingredients (bulk quantity – makes 23 cups, to fill 25–27 jars)
4½ cups (450g) ground coriander
4 cups (450g) ground cumin
½ cup (40g) dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons (25g) fine white pepper
8 cups (1 kilo) sesame seeds, toasted
4 cups (575g) almonds, toasted (or store-bought unsalted dry roasted)
2½ cups (325g) pistachio kernels, toasted

Place coriander, cumin, thyme, salt, pepper and half the toasted sesame seeds into a large bowl and mix well. Blend almonds, pistachios and the remaining toasted sesame seeds in batches in a food processor, transferring to the bowl of dried spices as you go. Don’t grind them too fine or you’ll end up with a paste! Nuts should be chunky, and just broken.
Divide dukkah into sterilised jars, top the lids with a small square of fabric and seal with string. You can fashion your own funnel from cardboard, to make pouring into the jars easier. Reserve some dukkah for yourself, for the three recipes below!
Very loosely based on Greg Malouf’s recipe in Arabesque.

  • You can toast your own sesame seeds or buy them pre-roasted from Asian and Middle Eastern food stores.
  • Spices can be bought in bulk from Asian and Middle Eastern food stores. Mine were purchased, as always, from Oasis; where you can also find pre-shelled pistachios!
  • Most dukkah recipes call for whole coriander and cumin seeds, crushed in a spice or coffee grinder, or manually with a mortar and pestle. When making dukkah in bulk, pre-ground spices are recommended, as the crushing would take weeks! Incidentally, food processors aren’t great for seed-crushing as the seeds slip past the blades.
  • Dukkah should be stored in a cool dry place, and will keep for 3–6 months.

Spiced lamb pizza with tahini sauce. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 2] Spiced lamb pizza (lahm bi ajine)

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 quantity wholemeal (wholewheat) pizza dough
2 tablespoons olive oil for brushing
400g (14 oz) lamb backstraps, leg or fillets
3 teaspoons Pistachio and almond dukkah (see recipe above)
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
1 small red (purple/Spanish) onion, finely diced
2 firm Roma or vine-ripened tomatoes, seeds and liquid scooped out, diced
To serve:
Tahini sauce
Fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
Lemon wedges (these are a must)!
Tomato and cucumber salad

Preheat oven to 250°C (480ºF).
Place two pizza trays into the hot oven to warm up, for at least 10 minutes. This is an important step for crispy-based pizzas.
Divide wholemeal pizza dough into four. Sprinkle flour on work surface. Roll out each piece of dough into a log shape with your hands. With a rolling pin, roll each log into a large flat oval, approx. 12 x 30cm (5 x 12″). Lift the four bases onto two sheets of baking paper.
Place the chopped lamb, Pistachio and almond dukkah and pomegranate molasses into a food processor and process until minced.
Brush each pizza base lightly with olive oil.
Arrange the prepared lamb, onion and tomato over each base, leaving a 2cm (.8″) border.
Carefully slide pizzas and baking paper onto pre-heated pizza trays and bake for 10–12 minutes. Cook separately if they don’t fit side by side.
Remove from oven. Scatter with fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing; and Tomato and cucumber salad.
Recipe very loosely adapted from this one by Greg Malouf.

Honey-spiced dukkah popcorn. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 3] Spiced honey dukkah popcorn

Ingredients (makes 12 cups):
40g (1.5 oz) organic coconut oil
½ cup popcorn kernels
60 grams (2 oz/½ stick) butter
2 tablespoons honey
♦ 2 tablespoons Pistachio and almond dukkah (see recipe above)
½ teaspoon sea salt

Melt the coconut oil in your largest saucepan, over medium-high heat.
Add the popcorn kernels and cover.
When the kernels begin to pop, gently shake the pan now and again to prevent burning. Once the popping slows down to 2 or 3 seconds between each pop, remove the pan from the heat and tip popcorn into a large bowl.
Melt the butter and honey in a small saucepan. Add Pistachio and almond dukkah and salt and stir to combine.
Pour over the popcorn and stir to coat evenly. Tip into a large bowl and serve.

Dukkah lamb with tray-roasted veggies. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 4] Char-grilled dukkah lamb with tray-roasted veggies

Ingredients (serves 4):
2 x large lamb backstraps (approx. 500g/1.1 lb total)
¼ cup olive oil

⅓ cup Pistachio and almond dukkah (see recipe above), plus extra to serve
Vegetables for roasting:

650g (1.4 lb) kipfler potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, halved

3 smallish sweet potatoes (approx. 500g/1.1 lb), unpeeled, scrubbed, cut into wedges

2 red (purple/Spanish) onions, peeled, quartered

2 medium zucchini, each halved lengthwise and cut into 4

⅓ cup olive oil

Sea salt flakes and freshly-cracked black pepper
To serve:
Tahini sauce
Fresh chopped coriander

Place lamb pieces in a non-metallic dish or bowl.
Combine olive oil and Pistachio and almond dukkah and spread over the lamb pieces. Cover and allow to marinate for at least one hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F).
Place halved potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes, until just tender. Drain and pat dry with a clean tea towel.
Place par-boiled potatoes, sweet potato, onions, zucchini and oil into a large bowl. Toss to coat. Place into a large (preferably cast iron) baking pan, scatter with salt and pepper and roast for 45–50 minutes, turning every 10–15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside. Veggies can be served warm or at room temperature.
When you’re ready to serve, cook the lamb. Preheat a lightly-oiled barbecue or chargrill plate to medium–high heat. Cook lamb for 4 minutes each side, or until cooked to your liking. We like ours rare-ish. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
Slice lamb thickly across the grain. To serve, pile roasted veggies onto four plates. Top with sliced lamb, drizzle with tahini sauce and scatter with coriander and extra dukkah.

  • Char-grilled dukkah lamb is great for feeding a large crowd. To serve ten people, you’ll need 1.5 kilo (3.3 lb) lamb backstraps, ¾ cup olive oil and 1 cup Pistachio and almond dukkah. Cook the lamb on the BBQ, and serve with double quantity tahini sauce.
  • Veggies are a guide only. Feel free to toss unpeeled pumpkin wedges, carrot slices and/or halved firm Roma tomatoes into the roasting pan.
  • Char-grilled dukkah lamb is also delicious served with Farro salad.
  • Kid tip: Kids will love the char-grilled lamb in a wrap with tahini sauce (or smashed avocado), grated carrot and lettuce. Pluck some roast potato and sweet potato wedges from the roasting pan and call them ‘chips’.

Sheep trick


I’ve been the quintessential Melbourne chick lately, with the last two Saturdays spent rummaging through markets and pop-ups. The run-down: Gorman home pop-up, Latin American Festival, Design Files Open House and Maribyrnong Makers Market. Living in Melbourne is exhausting!
A chock-a-block Saturday preceded by five days of work is invariably followed by bedlam, with our house looking positively ransacked. So… with the washing machine on high rotation, and mountains of detritus to sort on a recent Sunday, I decided to slow-cook a chunk of lamb, a process I love as the meat can be ignored for the day while it does its thing. The result is an impressive-looking feast, with tender and juicy meat that literally falls away from the bone after a light prod with a fork. A most excellent reward after a day of hard yakka!
There is minimal prepping required for this dish. I make a quick spice mix (as used for my pork belly, although I swap the smoked paprika for oregano), rub it over the lamb and bung it in the oven. I find it unnecessary to pre-marinate lamb shoulder, or bring it to room temperature for an hour or more, as many recipes exhort – 5 hours in the oven equals meat cooked to perfection with spices well and truly impregnated. Yum!
My friend Ed alerted me to her go-to lamb shoulder recipe recently, by Kate Gibbs, with beautiful halved full garlic heads. I threw a couple in with my lamb and oh my goodness, I don’t think I can eat roast meat without them ever again. I’ve often tossed single unpeeled cloves into a pan of potatoes, but the halved full heads are just so darn pretty, and absolutely delicious.
I saved a few cloves of the roasted garlic and used them in a creamy garlic yogurt sauce which we drizzled over lamb gyros the following night, made with reserved slow-cooked lamb. May I be so bold as to say the gyros were spectacular, and they took only 20 minutes to whip up! I made the exact same meal the following Sunday, to a background chorus of woohoos from my boys; and agitated grunting from the washing machine.
PS. The key to a perfect gyro is the right bread and pocketless pitas are the way to go, if you can find them. My lovely spongy pitas are hand-made by Kalimera in Oakleigh, a takeaway restaurant that is absolutely worth the drive. If you’re unable to find pocketless pita bread in your ‘hood, naan is a good replacement; ideally from an Indian grocer as supermarket naans can be a tad cardboard-like.

Slow roasted lamb shoulder and roasted garlicSlow roasted lamb shoulder[Recipe 1] Slow-roasted lamb shoulder with roasted garlic and potatoes

Ingredients (serves 4 for two meals):
2½ kilo (5 lb) lamb shoulder, bone in (have your butcher cut through the bone here and there)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons oregano (fresh, chopped, if you have it)
2 whole heads garlic, halved crossways
4 large potatoes, cut into chunks
Salad to serve (eg. apple slawgreen beans with toasted pine nuts or tomato, fetta and mint salad)
Lemon wedges, to serve

Preheat oven to 220°C (425ºF).
Pop the lamb into a heavy baking pan, fat side up. Score the fat all over with a very sharp knife. Mix the oil, salt, cumin, cinnamon and oregano together; and rub all over the lamb. Tuck the garlic heads around the lamb. Add a splash of water (about 4 tablespoons). Place a sheet of baking paper on top, then cover very tightly with two layers of foil.
Roast the lamb and garlic heads, covered, for 15 minutes.
Turn the oven down to 150°C (300°F) and roast, covered, for a further 4¾ hours (see tips below if your lamb shoulder is a lighter weight than stipulated).
Carefully add the chopped potatoes to the roasting pan for the last 2 hours, covered.
Remove the lamb from the oven, place onto a board and rest, covered with foil, for 20 minutes.
Remove the potato chunks and garlic heads from the pan and place them on a tray lined with baking paper. Turn the oven up as high at will go, and return them to the oven for 20–30 minutes for extra crisping, while you rest and prepare the lamb. Potatoes and garlic can be kept warm in a low oven.
When ready to serve, pull the lamb meat apart with two forks.
♦ Reserve 2 cups cooked lamb, and a few tablespoons of the pan juices, for the lamb gyros.
♦ Reserve 4 single cloves (8 halves) of roasted garlic for the roasted garlic yogurt sauce.
Place the remaining lamb on a serving platter with the lemon wedges. Serve immediately with roasted garlic heads, roasted spuds and salad.

  • Reserved slow-cooked lamb and roasted garlic cloves can be stored in the fridge, well-covered, for up to 3 days.
  • Lamb shoulder cooking time summary: Cooking time for lamb shoulder is pretty standard, no matter where you look. Start with a burst at high temperature, then turn down the oven for a long slow cook!
    For a 2½ kilo (5 lb) lamb shoulder, the total cooking time is 5 hours (1 hour per 500g/1 lb; including an initial ¼ hour at a higher temperature – see recipe). Allow an extra 20 minutes resting time.
    For a 2 kilo (4 lb) lamb shoulder, the total cooking time is 4 hours (1 hour per 500g/1 lb; including an initial ¼ hour at a higher temperature). Allow an extra 20 minutes resting time.

Home made lamb gyro with garlic sauce

[Recipe 2] 20-minute lamb gyros with roasted garlic sauce

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 pita breads, preferably without pockets (see notes in my introduction)
♦ 2 cups reserved slow-cooked lamb, shredded, warmed
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 red (purple/Spanish) onion, thinly sliced
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
Roasted garlic sauce (make 2 hours ahead if time permits):
1 cup (250g) Greek yogurt
♦ 4 reserved roasted garlic cloves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt

Make the garlic sauce by processing ½ cup yogurt, reserved roasted garlic cloves and lemon juice until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, add the remaining ½ cup yogurt and stir to combine. Season. Refrigerate for at least two hours, if possible, to allow the flavour to develop.
Warm pita breads on a chargrill or in a dry frying pan.
Pile reserved lamb, tomato, onion and cucumber onto each warmed pita bread.
Drizzle with garlic sauce and roll up to enclose. Serve immediately.

  • Garlic sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • Gyros are also lovely served with cucumber raita or tahini sauce, in place of the garlic sauce.
  • Lamb can be gently warmed in the microwave, covered with cling film.
  • Kid tip: My 9-year old gobbles up the gyros as is, but my 6 year old prefers plain Greek yogurt (stirred to thin it slightly), grated carrot and sliced avocado in his.


transforms into

I’ve been making variations of these two recipes for years but have never written up a proper recipe. Until now! We’ve enjoyed them three times over the past few weeks, whilst I’ve tweaked and tested, and may I boastfully say GOD they’re SO good. Both my boys love them, as do the husband and I. I’d classify them as the perfect planned-over pair – an easy weekend dinner of spiced leg of lamb on a bed of roasted vegetables; followed up to 3 nights later by a super-fast Indian-style rice biryani.
The lamb is coated in a zingy home-made spice paste which chars the top of the lamb beautifully, and trickles down into the roasted veggies. Half the spice paste is reserved as a flavour base for the biryani, along with a portion of the roast lamb and vegetables. Throw everything into a deep frying pan with stock, basmati rice and a handful of baby spinach and your weeknight dinner is sorted.
A traditional biryani takes hours to prepare, but by using good old planned-overs you can have it on the table in 20 minutes!

Spiced roast lamb[Recipe 1] Spiced roast leg of lamb with cauliflower and lentils

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
2¼ kilo (4½ lb) leg of lamb, bone in
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
2 x 400g (15 oz) cans lentils, drained, rinsed (or 2 cups cooked lentils – see notes below recipe)
4 large carrots (approx. 650g/1½ lb), cut into thick 1cm (½”) slices
Coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve
Spice paste (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon garam masala
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2½cm (1”) piece ginger, finely chopped (about 1½ tablespoons)
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Prepare the spice paste by processing the dry spices, garlic, ginger, salt, oil and lemon juice with a stick blender or food processor, until combined. Add the lemon zest and mix well.
♦ Reserve half the spice paste (¼ cup/60g) for the lamb biryani.
Make shallow incisions in the lamb and brush thickly all over with the remaining spice paste. Cover loosely and allow lamb to sit at room temperature for an hour, before roasting. (Note: lamb can also be coated in the spice mix, covered, and stored in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Bring it to room temperature for an hour before roasting).
Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Place the spiced lamb into a lightly-oiled shallow baking dish. Add one cup of water. Roast for 1 hour.
Turn heat down to 180°C (350ºF). Add carrot slices to the pan and lightly toss to coat in the pan juices. Baste lamb. Roast lamb and carrots for a further 30 minutes.
Add cauliflower pieces to the pan and lightly toss to coat in the pan juices. Roast lamb, carrots and cauliflower pieces for a further 30 minutes.
Remove the lamb from the pan, cover lightly with foil, and rest for 20 minutes.
Total cooking time for 2¼ kilo (4½ lb) leg of lamb = 2 hours + 20 minutes resting time.
Meanwhile, add lentils to the pan and toss with the carrot and cauliflower pieces. Pop veggies back in the oven for a further 10 minutes, while the lamb is resting.
Slice meat from the bone.
♦ Reserve 1½–2 cups sliced roast lamb for the lamb biryani.
♦ Reserve 1½–2 cups cooked carrot, cauliflower and lentils for the lamb biryani.
Serve remaining sliced lamb with the remaining roasted carrots, cauliflower and lentils. Scatter with coriander.

  • Planned-overs (reserved cooked lamb, cauliflower, carrots and lentils) can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • Spice paste will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Don’t worry too much about reserving the exact specified amount of lamb and vegetables for the biryani. The biryani is a pretty forgiving recipe and will easily cope with more or less meat or veggies. Unused leftover lamb and roasted vegetables are delicious in a sandwich or wrap with tahini sauce and baby spinach leaves.
  • 2 x 400g (14 oz) cans lentils, drained, will yield 2 heaped cups lentils. For 2 heaped cups cooked lentils, cook 1 cup dry lentils in boiling water for 45 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse. I often cook up a load of lentils, and freeze them in 1 cup portions to use when required.
  • If you fancy baked potatoes with your roast, place two or three large quartered, peeled potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, and simmer uncovered for 10–15 minutes, until almost tender. Drain and return potatoes to the dry pan. Place the lid on, and shake the pan over a medium heat to roughen and dry them. Add a splash of vegetable oil and toss to coat. Place prepared potato wedges into the pan at the same time as the carrots – they should be laid on top of the carrots so they crisp nicely. They can be cooked in a separate pan or on a small baking-paper lined tray, if your roasting pan is too full. 

Lamb biryani

[Recipe 2] Quick lamb and vegetable biryani

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small brown or red (purple/Spanish) onion, chopped
¼ cup/60g reserved spice paste
♦ 1½–2 cups reserved sliced roast lamb, chopped
♦ 1½–2 cups reserved roast cauliflower, carrot and lentils, (carrot chopped into small pieces)
1¼ cups (275g) uncooked basmati rice, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken stock, store-bought or home-made
75g (3 oz) baby spinach leaves, chopped
Cracked black pepper
65g (2¼ oz) slivered almonds, toasted
Greek yogurt, to serve

Heat oil in a heavy-based, deep-sided frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion for 5 minutes, until soft.
♦ Add reserved spice paste. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, until aromatic.
♦ Add reserved lamb and vegetables and mix well. Add rice and stock, stir well to combine, and bring to the boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add baby spinach and cook, uncovered, for a further 2–3 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid absorbed. Stir occasionally. Season with pepper.
Divide biryani amongst four bowls. Scatter with toasted slivered almonds and a large plop of Greek yogurt.

Great balls of fire

[Recipe 1] LAMB, PUMPKIN and LEMON KÖFTES transform into
Hi all. Hope you had an excellent weekend. We went to a garage sale, attended two Christmas gatherings and set up the Christmas tree; so ours was full and fun.
I’m sitting here, wine in hand, feeling pretty great actually. We have a system in place (us old people like routines), where one night a week the husband heads back to the studio (ie. the place where we work) and gets out his easel and canvases for a painting session, while I sit here blogging to my heart’s content. I LOVE it. I write my weekly blog post, sort out recipes and fuel my Pinterest addiction; and he releases his creative juices. Bliss.
So… onto this week’s recipes… these two have been stuffed in my bulging recipe file for ages, and I was inspired to finally share them after reading Ali’s fab post recently. We had friends over for a simple BBQ a couple of weekends ago and lamb köftes (Middle Eastern football-shaped meatballs) were our glamorous replacement for hamburgers. They go down beautifully with adults and kids too. I like mine with pumpkin added and a dash of lemon rind for zing. You can plug them with almost any vegies though – I’ve made them in the past with grated carrot and even beetroot!
The accompanying tahini sauce takes seconds to make – the perfect task for young helpers. The 5-minute lentil and tomato salad is also a breeze to whip up. The harissa is optional, but I’m a harissa junkie, so I use it whenever I can. We recently discovered pilpel harissa in our local supermarket and it’s fantastic. Super spicy and intense.
The bonus with this köfte recipe is that you’ll end up with enough mixture to serve up a fantastic spiced lamb meatball and lentil tagine later. The meatballs freeze beautifully, so you can whip them out for a quick mid-week meal.
PS. The origin of the word köfte is the Persian word کوفته  (kufteh) meaning ‘mashed’. Just thought you’d like to know.

Lamb koftes with tahini sauce[Recipe 1] Lamb, pumpkin and lemon köftes

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 red (purple/Spanish) onions, very finely chopped
3 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 kilo (2 lb) minced (ground) lamb
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind
200g (7 oz) butternut pumpkin (butternut squash), grated and chopped
4 large eggs, lightly whisked
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to garnish
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
Harissa, to serve (optional)

Store-bought pita breads, to serve (or try Sawsan’s fab recipe)
Tahini sauce, to serve
5-minute lentil and tomato salad, to serve

Heat oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 3 minutes. Add the ground spices and cook for 1–2 minutes until aromatic. Allow to cool slightly.
Add cooled spiced onion to the minced lamb in a large bowl; along with the lemon rind, pumpkin, eggs, parsley and breadcrumbs. Moosh thoroughly with your hands.
♦ Reserve half the spiced lamb and pumpkin mixture (850g/1¾ lb or 3 tightly-packed cups) for the Spiced lamb meatball and lentil tagine.
Prepare your köftes. Divide the mixture into 14 portions and shape each into a football-shaped log. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a low heat. Add the köftes and cook, turning occasionally, for 8 minutes or until cooked through. Köftes can also be cooked, over a low heat, on the BBQ.
Place koftes on a large platter and serve with harissa (if using), pita breads, tahini sauce, and 5-minute lentil and tomato salad.

  • It’s very important that your onion and pumpkin are chopped as finely as possible, or your köftes and meatballs will be crumbly.
  • You can of course use the köfte mixture to make a double quantity of köftes, or double quantity of meatballs, as preferred.
  • Harissa is a North African hot chilli sauce, available at specialty food stores, Middle Eastern grocers and select supermarkets.
  • Uncooked lamb and pumpkin köftes and meatballs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen with baking paper between the layers, for up to 3 months.

Lamb meatball tagine with couscous

[Recipe 2] Spiced lamb meatball and lentil tagine

Ingredients (serves 4):
♦ 850g/1¾ lb (3 tightly-packed cups) reserved spiced lamb and pumpkin mixture

1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
2 teaspoons tomato paste/concentrate
700ml (24 fl oz) tomato passata (tomato puree)
400g (14 oz) can lentils, drained and rinsed (or 1 cup cooked lentils – see notes below recipe)
1 cinnamon stick
⅛ teaspoon ground chilli powder (or more – to taste)
Salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve
Half a preserved lemon (skin only), rinsed and finely chopped (optional)
Greek-style natural yogurt, to serve
1¼ cups instant couscous

♦ Roll the reserved spiced lamb and pumpkin mixture into approximately 26 small meatballs (use 1 tablespoon of mixture for each ball).
Refrigerate for half an hour if time permits. 
Heat oil in a large non-stick saucepan over medium heat, and fry meatballs in two batches, until browned all over, about 3 minutes. Remove meatballs, and place on kitchen paper.
Place ½ cup water, tomato paste, passata, lentils, cinnamon and chilli into a large heavy-based saucepan and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 15 minutes, or until thickened. Stir occasionally. Add meatballs to the sauce and simmer for ten minutes, covered, until cooked through. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. 
Season to taste.
Meanwhile, prepare couscous. Bring 2 cups of water to the boil. Stir in the couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes, until water is absorbed. Fluff up with a fork.
Serve meatball tagine over couscous, scattered with parsley and preserved lemon (if using), with a good blob of yogurt on the side.

  • Left-over tomato paste can be frozen in teaspoon or tablespoon lumps, individually-wrapped in cling film; ready to plop into your next pasta dish.
  • Freeze leftover parsley stalks, and use in sweet tomato pasta sauce or home-made chicken stock.
  • 400g (14 oz) can lentils, drained, will yield 1 heaped cup cooked lentils. For 1 heaped cup cooked lentils, cook ½ cup dry lentils in boiling water for 45 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse. I often cook up a load of lentils, and freeze them in 1 cup portions to use when required.

Silence of the yams


I love orange sweet potatoes (yams) and schlepped a huge bag of them home from the market recently. The first recipe this week, Lamb cutlets with roasted capsicums (bell peppers) and sweet potato (yam) mash is a favourite of mine. I’ve been making it for years, since way BC (before children). It sounds simple and it is, but it’s a bit special too as it’s drizzled with a beautiful sweet reduction, made from the capsicum’s pan juices, mingled with wine and white balsamic vinegar. The basil garnish is a must and really finishes it off. I can hardly believe it, but my hardy little basil plant is still popping out leaves in this disgusting weather! It deserves a medal. The boys love this dish too, although they’re not keen on capsicum so I fling them a few steamed vegies instead.
By roasting a huge pan of red capsicums and steaming a mountain of sweet potatoes (see the orange diamonds in the recipe for quantities), you can reserve some for a fab Spiced sweet potato and red capsicum soup. Its lovely and zingy and the colour is amazing – true vermillion. I had a bunch of girlfriends over for lunch recently and they were my guinea pigs. All the soup was polished off, so I’m guessing they liked it! We had it with fresh bread made my clever friend Bec. Her bread is better than any bought loaf. It’s in fact on a par with De Chirico’s and that’s high praise indeed. Thanks Bec.

Roasted capsicums

Lamb cutlets with sweet potato mash[Recipe 1] Lamb cutlets with roasted capsicums and sweet potato mash

¼ cup (60ml) olive oil, plus more for cooking lamb cutlets
6 large red capsicums (bell peppers), de-seeded, cut into eighths
2 red (purple/Spanish) onions, peeled, halved
cup (125ml) white wine
¼ cup (60ml) white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

4 whole cloves garlic, unpeeled
6 large orange sweet potatoes (kumara/yams), peeled, chopped
1 tablespoon (15g/½ oz) butter, chopped
100ml (3½ fl oz) milk, plus extra if required

10–12 lamb cutlets, frenched
Fresh basil leaves, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Pour the olive oil into a large baking dish. Add the red capsicum pieces and onions and toss to coat with the oil. Mix together the wine, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar and pour over the vegetables. Season well. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently stir. Add the whole garlic cloves. Return to the oven and roast for a further 30 minutes. Remove and set aside. Drain off pan juices into a small jug.
Reserve all the roast onion and all the roasted garlic cloves for the Spiced sweet potato and red capsicum soup.
You’ll need about 2–3 strips of roasted capsicum per person, to serve with the lamb cutlets.
Reserve the remaining roasted capsicum, about 6 cups, for the Spiced sweet potato and red capsicum soup.
Meanwhile, steam the sweet potatoes until tender, about 10–15 minutes. You’ll need ⅓ of the sweet potato (about 3½ cups) for the sweet potato mash. Add the butter and milk and mash well, until nice and creamy. Set aside.
Reserve the remaining ⅔ of steamed sweet potato, about 8 cups, for the Spiced sweet potato and red capsicum soup.
Quantities don’t need to be exact for the soup recipe so don’t worry too much about weighing things. See my notes below the soup recipe.
Heat the extra olive oil in a heavy-based frypan over a medium heat, and cook the lamb cutlets for 3 minutes each side. Set aside on a covered plate while you make the saucy reduction. Pour the reserved capsicum pan juices into the frypan, turn up the heat (not too high), and simmer, stirring continuously, until reduced by half. Keep an eye on it, so it doesn’t reduce to nothing! This should take about 1–2 minutes. Scrape all the lovely meaty bits into the juice.
Place a mound of sweet potato mash onto each serving plate, top with 2 or 3 lamb cutlets and a few pieces of roasted capsicum. Drizzle with the sweet reduced juices and scatter with basil leaves. Serve immediately.

  • You can make the roasted red capsicums in advance, and keep them warm in a very low oven. You can also make the sweet potato mash in advance and heat gently when required. 
  • Reserved roasted red capsicum, garlic cloves, red onion and steamed sweet potatoes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; so you can make the soup later.
  • I use a large bamboo steamer over a wok to steam my sweet potatoes, in two batches. You could also steam ⅓ of the sweet potato for the mash, and roast the remaining ⅔ for the soup at the same time as the red capsicums (on the shelf below).

Roasted red capsicum and sweet potato soup

[Recipe 2] Spiced sweet potato and red capsicum soup

4 reserved roasted red onions, chopped
4 reserved roasted garlic cloves, squeezed from their skins
6 cups reserved roasted red capsicum
8 cups reserved steamed sweet potato
2 large tomatoes, de-seeded, chopped
5–6 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon harissa (North African chilli paste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
Natural yoghurt, to serve
Fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve

Place all reserved vegetables into a large bowl.
Add tomatoes, vegetable stock, harissa and cumin. Blend until completely smooth, with a stick blender or food processor. Season to taste.
Warm gently in a saucepan, over medium heat. Season.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Serve, topped with swirls of yoghurt (stir the yoghurt first to thin it, before swirling), and scattered with coriander.
Serves 8

  • Harissa (North African chilli paste) is available from specialist food stores, large supermarkets and Middle-Eastern grocers (such as Gourmet Grocer, A1-bakery, Simon Johnson, Essential Ingredient, Oasis bakery or Manakish). Replace with a small red birdseye chilli, de-seeded and chopped, if unavailable.
  • You can adjust the consistency of the soup, by adding more or less stock. If you accidentally make it too thin, it can be thickened by adding and blending a 400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzos); drained and rinsed. This is a handy trick to have up your sleeve for other soup-thinning disasters, such as watery pumpkin soup.
  • This soup recipe makes a huge quantity. I like to freeze it for weekday meals. You can easily halve the quantities of vegetables in the first recipe though, to make a smaller batch of soup.

Pow! Right in the kisir!

[Recipe 1] SHREDDED LAMB with KISIR and TAHINI SAUCE transforms into
I’m a bit chuffed with these two recipes. Both boys hoovered them up (although I served my 5-year old’s pita breads differently – see Fussy Child Tips below recipe). First up is Shredded lamb with kisir* and tahini sauce. The lamb is boiled and it’s moist, flavorsome and fantastic. I much prefer it to char-grilled lamb, which can be a tad dry. I’ve based this recipe on traditional Turkish kuzu haslama (boiled lamb). Don’t let the ingredients list spook you. It’s SO easy. Toss a whole leg of lamb into a pot with water, a few spices and vegies and leave it to fend for itself for a couple of hours. The boiled lamb is then shredded and served with kisir*, tahini sauce and pita breads. Yummo.
The excellent bonus with this recipe is that when the lamb is done, you’re left with beautiful home-made lamb stock to set aside for later in the week. Pop the lamb stock in a saucepan, add some of the reserved shredded lamb (see the ♦ orange diamonds in the recipe for the exact quantities), barley and a few vegies and you can conjure up the most beautiful Lamb, fennel and barley soup. The perfect one-pot meal to mop up with crusty bread on a Wintery evening. Melbourne’s weather has been hideous, and the house has become a bit of a soup assembly line lately – this one was the definite winner.
*Kisir is the Turkish version of Middle Eastern tabouli. The main difference between kisir and tabouli (tabouleh) is that kisir has tomato paste and chilli in it. Kisir also has more burghul (bulgur) and less parsley so it’s a little more substantial.

Pita bread with lamb and hommus

[Recipe 1] Shredded lamb with kisir and tahini sauce

2 kilo (4 lb) leg of lamb, untrimmed, on the bone
4 litres (4.2 quarts) water
2 leeks, chopped
2 brown onions, chopped
4 whole cloves garlic, peeled, halved

3 large carrots, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
12 whole black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks, snapped in half
5 bay leaves
10 parsley stalks (reserved from preparing the kisir)

Tahini sauce or hummus, to serve
Store-bought pita breads, to serve (or try Sawsan’s fab recipe)
1 cup burghul (bulgur)
2½ cups boiling water
1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 roma (or vine-ripened) tomatoes, chopped
1 small red onion, very finely sliced
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses (optional)
1 tablespoon tomato paste (tomato concentrate)

1 teaspoon harissa (North African chilli paste)
¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Have your butcher cut the lamb leg in half; or alternatively, take a very sharp knife and cut through the lamb leg on two sides until you hit the bone. Place lamb, water, leeks, onions, garlic cloves, carrots, celery, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and parsley stalks in a large stock pot. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the kisir. Place the burghul in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for about 1 hour, until water is absorbed. You can prepare the other ingredients while you wait. Sieve the burghul, pressing down to extract excess water. Place burghul in a large bowl and fluff up with a fork. Add remaining ingredients. Season and gently stir to combine. Set aside.
Remove lamb from stock (including any small pieces that have fallen away from the bone) and transfer to a large plate. Strain lamb stock with a colander into a large pan, and discard vegetables. Strain again with a fine sieve. Allow to cool, then refrigerate overnight. Skim and discard solid fat from top of stock.
♦ Reserve 7 cups lamb stock for the Lamb, fennel and barley soup.
Cut the lamb into chunks, discarding the bone, and shred the meat coarsely with two forks.
♦ Reserve approximately 2 cups of shredded lamb for the Lamb, fennel and barley soup.
Arrange remaining shredded lamb and pita breads on serving platters. Place tahini sauce (or hummus) and kisir in serving bowls; and allow everyone to help themselves.

  • To vary the kisir, add thinly sliced radishes or cucumber.
  • Pomegranate molasses and harissa (North African chilli paste) are available from specialist food stores, large supermarkets and Middle-Eastern grocers (such as Gourmet Grocer, A1-bakery, Simon Johnson, Essential Ingredient, Oasis bakery or Manakish).
  • Burghul (bulgur), or cracked wheat, is available from health food stores and large supermarkets.
  • Reserved lamb stock can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Reserved shredded lamb can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
  • When using parsley for other recipes, freeze the stalks instead of tossing them. They’re excellent in stock, and can also be used in sweet tomato pasta sauce.
  • BABY TIP: If you have a baby in the house, don’t discard the vegetables from the lamb stock. The celery and carrot can be puréed, with a little of the shredded lamb, so baby can join in on the feast!
  • FUSSY CHILD TIP: If your kids aren’t keen on kisir, serve their lamb with pita bread, diced avocado, sliced cucumber and lettuce instead.

Lamb and barley soup

[Recipe 2] Lamb, fennel and barley soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 parsnips, finely chopped
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
♦ 7 cups reserved lamb stock
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1½ cups (375ml) red wine
½ cup (125g) pearl barley, soaked at least 6 hours, drained
4 tablespoons tomato paste
♦ 2 cups reserved shredded lamb

3 cups (100g) baby spinach leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, parsnip, fennel and garlic; and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
♦ Add the reserved lamb stock and stir well.
Add the rosemary, wine, barley and tomato paste and stir to combine.
♦ Add the reserved shredded lamb.
Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 1 hour. Add spinach and stir until wilted.
Season. Serve, scattered with parsley.
Serves 6-8.

  • If using fresh reserved lamb stock (not frozen); the Lamb, fennel and barley soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. It can also be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • I’m no expert, but according to my extensive web-surfing it’s safe to serve properly-prepared meals cooked with wine (or beer) to children over 2 years old. This dish is cooked long enough for the alcohol to evaporate, leaving only harmless trace residues and the rich, concentrated flavour of the wine. I prefer to cook with organic wine as it contains less sulfites and the grapes are of course grown without nasty pesticides.


transforms into

One of my favourite Melbourne restaurants is Abla’s. Abla Amad herself is considered Melbourne’s Queen of Lebanese cooking, and her signature dish is Djaj a riz (chicken and rice cooked with lamb and spices). It’s a taste sensation! I cooked it once and it was divine, but too time-consuming for a midweek family meal.
Lamb and spinach pilaf with toasted pine nuts is my cheat’s version. It’s packed with veggies, and is super quick to throw together. I go through stages of making it once a week, and have been serving it up to my boys since they were toddlers. Mine doesn’t contain chicken so purists should avert their gaze, but leftover chopped roast chook can be stirred through before serving.
By doubling up on the spiced lamb mixture, and reserving half the toasted pine-nuts; you can whip up a batch of excellent Lamb and pine-nut sambusek (Lebanese pastries) for lunch or a light dinner later in the week. My boys adore these. Look for the orange diamonds in the recipe for instructions on how much to set aside as planned-overs. Enjoy!

Lamb and spinach pilaf. One Equals Two

[Recipe 1] Lamb and spinach pilaf with toasted pine nuts

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter (approx. 20g)
1 small red (purple/Spanish) onion, very finely chopped
750g (1½ lb) minced (ground) lamb
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
(Note: you’ll be reserving half the above ingredients, cooked, for Recipe 2)
1¼ cups (250g) uncooked long grain white rice (or basmati), rinsed and drained
3 small carrots, grated
3½ cups chicken stock, store-bought or home-made
3 cups (100g) baby spinach leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
1 cup (130g/4½ oz) pine nuts, toasted

Heat oil and butter in a heavy-based, deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion for 3–4 minutes, until just soft. Add lamb and cook for 5 minutes, breaking up the lumps really well. Carefully drain off any pan juices.
Add spices and stir well. Cover and cook over a very low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until aromatic.
At this stage, scoop out half the spiced lamb mixture, about 1½ cups (250g/8 oz), and reserve for the Lamb and pine-nut sambusek (see recipe 2 below).
To the remaining spiced lamb mixture (in frying pan) add rice, carrot and stock. Stir and bring to the boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add spinach and cook, uncovered, for a further 3–5 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid absorbed. Stir occasionally. Season well with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, toast your pine nuts
Reserve half (65g/2¼ oz) of the toasted pine nuts for the Lamb and pine nut sambusek.

Serve pilaf with pine nuts scattered on top.

  • To save time, the nuts can be toasted, and the spinach chopped, while the rice is cooking.
  • Half a 400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or lentils; drained and rinsed, can be added with the rice for variety. Freeze the extra half can (drained and rinsed) in a small plastic container, for up to 3 months.
  • Leftover chopped roast chicken can be added with the spinach, for the ultimate meat fest!
  • Planned-overs (reserved spiced lamb mixture and reserved toasted pine nuts) can be stored separately in the fridge for 3 days; or frozen in sealed containers for up to 2 months.
  • If you purchase 1 kilo (2 lb) of minced lamb, you can use the leftover 250g (½ lb) to make mini lamb parmesan burgers for the kid’s lunchboxes. Add 1 small finely grated carrot, ¼ cup (25g) grated parmesan, 1 egg and ¼ cup dried breadcrumbs. Mix well and shape into 6 little burgers. Fry, allow to cool, and freeze until required. Defrost overnight, and serve in dinner rolls with tomato sauce. Kids will happily devour these cold.

Lamb and pinenut sambusek

[Recipe 2] Lamb and pine-nut sambusek (Lebanese pastries)

Ingredients (makes 12):
1 quantity wholemeal (wholewheat) sambusek dough

1½ cups (250g/8 oz) reserved spiced lamb mixture

65g/2¼ oz) reserved toasted pinenuts, lightly crushed with a mortar and pestle
1 large tomato, seeds and liquid scooped out, chopped
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses (replace with lemon juice if unavailable)
Vegetable oil for brushing
Tahini sauce, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Prepare wholemeal sambusek dough. While dough is resting, make the filling.
Place reserved spiced lamb mixture and reserved toasted pinenuts (crushed) into a bowl. Add tomato and pomegranate molasses. Mix well and set aside.
Line two large baking trays with baking paper.
Divide the pastry dough into two balls. Roll out one ball of dough (leaving the other in the covered bowl) on a lightly floured surface until quite thin, about 2–3mm (⅛-inch).
Using a 15cm (6-inch) round cutter (or tea-cup plate), cut out 6 circles from the dough.
Moisten dough edges with a little water. Place 1 tablespoon of lamb filling into the centre of each circle. Take two sides of the circle and pinch together to make a triangle. Lift the bottom of the circle towards the centre and pinch all three edges firmly together. Photo instructions below. Gather up scraps of dough and knead together as required.
Transfer sambusek to one baking tray, and brush each lightly with oil.
Repeat process with remaining dough and transfer to the other baking tray.
Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve with tahini sauce.

  • Swap trays part-way through cooking if your oven is not wide enough to accommodate the 2 trays next to each other. Or bake one tray of sambusek, while you prepare the other!
  • Cooked sambusek can be frozen, for up to 3 months. Place baking paper between the layers. When serving, allow to defrost overnight in the fridge. Reheat in a hot oven, covered with foil, for about 5 minutes.
  • Pomegranate molasses is available from specialist food stores, large supermarkets and Middle-Eastern grocers (such as Gourmet Grocer, A1-bakery, Simon Johnson, Essential Ingredient or Oasis bakery).

Folding sambousek

It’s chapati and I’ll fry if I want to

[Recipe 1] KEEMA MATTAR (Indian spiced minced lamb and peas)
transforms into

This week’s recipes are Indian. First up is Keema mattar. Keema is hindi for any type of ground meat and mattar are green peas. My version of Keema mattar contains carrot and cauliflower and is so flavoursome. It’s a fairly dry curry so it’s lovely served with yoghurt raita, and scooped up with home-made chapati (flatbread). You can whip up home-made chapati in a naan-o-second (sorry, can’t resist a bad pun) but you can of course use store-bought naan or chapati if you’re really pushed for time.
The Keema mattar recipe yields two large freezeable meals, each plenty for 4 people; plus an extra portion to be used as filling for delicious Baked filo pastry samosas, perfect for a weekend lunch or party nibbles. Look for the orange diamonds in the recipe for instructions on how much Keema mattar to set aside for the samosas.
Keema matter is a fab meal to take with you on holidays (even easier than bolognaise) as you need only bring a packet of chapati or roti to have with it. No need to muck around with rice or pasta. We’re off on our annual pilgrimage to the Apollo Bay Music Festival this weekend and I have a vat of Keema mattar in the freezer, ready to go. 
The lovely Michelle of formandreform blogged beautifully about cooking this meal. Check out her blog – she is one clever girl.

Keema mattar (Indian spiced mince lamb and peas). One Equals Two.

[Recipe 1] Keema mattar (Indian spiced mince lamb and peas)

Ingredients (serves 4 for 3 meals):
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red (purple/Spanish) onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1½ heaped tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1 heaped tablespoon cinnamon
1 heaped tablespoon garam masala
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
3 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 kilos (4 lb) minced (ground) lamb
1 long green chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped
2 large carrots, grated
1 small head cauliflower (or ½ large head), cut into very small florets
7 tablespoons (140g tub) tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
1 cup (250ml) water, plus extra if required
4 bay leaves
2 x 400g (15 oz) cans chickpeas (garbanzos), drained, rinsed (or 2 cups cooked chickpeas – see tips below recipe)
2 cups (500g/1 lb) frozen peas
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chapati (flatbread), store-bought, or home-made, to serve
Basic cucumber raita, to serve
Fresh coriander (cilantro), to serve

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, garam masala, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and cloves, and cook for 3 minutes, until aromatic. Add mince and cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until brown. Break up the mince with a wooden spoon now and again.
Add chilli, carrot, cauliflower, tomato paste, water, bay leaves and chickpeas and simmer, covered, over a medium heat for 25–30 minutes, until liquid has evaporated. Add more water if it starts to dry out too quickly. Toss peas into the pot for the last 5–10 minutes cooking time. Remove bay leaves. Season to taste.
Serve Keema mattar on top of chapati, scattered with coriander (cilantro), with raita on the side.
Divide the remainder of the Keema mattar into plastic containers (see storage tips below).
Reserve 3 cups (600g) Keema mattar for the Baked filo pastry samosas.

  • The Keema mattar recipe will yield three portions; ie. two serves of about 6 cups (1¼ kilos) each (1¼ kilos will serve four) plus a 3 cup (600g) portion to be used for the Baked filo pastry samosas.
  • Keema mattar can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge and should be used within three days; or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Serve the Keema mattar with steamed basmati rice instead of naan, for a change.
  • 2 x 400g (14 oz) cans chickpeas (garbanzos), drained, will yield approximately 3 cups chickpeas. For 3 cups cooked chickpeas, soak 250g (9 oz) dry chickpeas overnight. Drain and cook in boiling water for 45–50 minutes, until just tender. Drain and rinse. I often cook up a load of chickpeas, and freeze them in 1 cup portions to use when required.

Baked filo pastry samosas. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 2] Baked filo pastry samosas

Ingredients (makes 20):
1 tablespoon corn flour (cornstarch)
4 tablespoons warm water

♦ 3 cups (600g) reserved Keema mattar

½ cup (50g) dessicated coconut
1 x 375g (12½ oz) packet (20 sheets) frozen filo (phyllo) pastry, defrosted in fridge overnight
Vegetable oil for brushing
Easy spiced tomato chutney, or store-bought chutney, to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Mix corn flour and water together. Place into a small pan.
Add reserved Keema mattar to pan.
Add coconut and stir well.
Bring to the boil. Turn down heat and simmer until mixture thickens, about 2–3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Cut though all 20 sheets of filo pastry at once, with a sharp knife, into 3 long strips each measuring about 8½cm (3-inch) in width.
You’ll need three strips of pastry per samosa, making a total of about 20 samosas.
Place 1 tablespoon of the Keema mattar filling at the top end of a pastry strip and pull the left corner of the sheet diagonally to the right so that it forms the first little triangle. Keep folding the samosa over and over in the same way maintaining the triangle shape. After every third fold, brush a little oil on the pastry.
Repeat the procedure until all the samosas are ready, popping each on an oiled tray (with the last fold underneath), covered with a clean tea towel as you go.
Lightly brush the top of each samosa with vegetable oil.
Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until golden. Serve hot with Easy spiced tomato chutney.

  • Work quickly with the filo pastry, so it doesn’t dry out. Keep unused pastry portions covered with a clean tea towel as you work.
  • If using refrigerated Keema mattar (not frozen) this recipe is suitable to freeze. Freeze cooked samosas, for up to 3 months. Place baking paper between the layers. When serving, allow to defrost overnight in the fridge. Reheat in a hot oven, covered with foil, for 5–10 minutes.

Oh ragù, you’ve done it again

[Recipe 1] SPICED LAMB RAGÙ transforms into
[Recipe 2] MINI LAMB and MINT PIES
With Australia Day almost upon us, I think meat pies are called for, don’t you? Instead of making them from scratch, I make a delicious vat of Spiced lamb ragù. The remainder of this sauce is divided up, refrigerated or frozen as planned overs (look for the  orange diamonds) and used later for beautiful Mini lamb and mint pies. Stick a little Australian flag in each pie and serve on a large platter with a bowl of chunky tomato relish (or tomato sauce) for dipping. Onya.

Spiced lamb ragù with tagliatelle

[Recipe 1] Spiced lamb ragù with tagliatelle and pecorino

Ingredients (serves 4 for 3–4 meals):
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 brown onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 kilos (4 lb) minced (ground) lamb, shoulder if possible
1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

3 large carrots, cut into very small cubes
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
4 x 400g (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 cup (250ml) beef stock
½ cup (125ml) red wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½–1 cup chopped parsley (to taste), plus extra to serve
400g (14 oz) dried tagliatelle pasta (or approx. 625g fresh tagliatelle or pappardelle)
Shaved pecorino cheese to serve

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes.
Add mince and cook over low heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Break up the mince with a wooden spoon now and again. Carefully drain off most of the fat.
Add cinnamon and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes.
Add carrots, celery, tomatoes, stock and wine and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Remove lid and simmer for a further 15 minutes, or until thick. Season to taste and stir through parsley.
♦ Reserve 1 kilo (2 lb) spiced lamb ragù for the mini lamb and mint pies.
Divide the remainder of the lamb ragù into labeled plastic containers (see storage tips below).
Meanwhile, cook tagliatelle in boiling water until al dente. Drain.
Serve warm lamb ragù over tagliatelle, scattered with grated pecorino and extra parsley.

  • The Spiced lamb ragù recipe will yield three serves of about 1 kilo (2 lb) each (1 kilo will serve four) and, if youʼre lucky, one or two single portions too.
  • Spiced lamb ragù can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge and should be used within three days; or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Tagliatelle can be replaced with other flat ribbbon pasta, such as fettuccine or pappardelle.
  • Pecorino is a hard Italian cheese made from ewe’s milk, which goes beautifully with rich pasta sauces. If unavailable, replace with Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano.
  • Freeze leftover parsley stalks, and use in sweet tomato pasta sauce or home-made chicken stock.

Mini lamb and mint pies

[Recipe 2] Australia Day mini lamb and mint pies

Ingredients (makes 20):
4 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
1 kilo (2 lb) reserved spiced lamb ragù
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
2–3 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves (about 20–30 leaves)
5 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
3 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Tomato relish or Easy spiced tomato chutney, to serve

Preheat oven to 220°C (425ºF).
Grease 2 x 12-hole standard-sized muffin pans (note: you’ll need 20 pans only).
Blend flour with 3 tablespoons hot water to form a smooth paste.
Spoon reserved spiced lamb ragù into a medium-sized saucepan.
Add flour paste and bring to boil. Simmer, uncovered, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in worcestershire sauce and mint leaves.
Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
Using a 10cm (4-inch) round cutter, cut out 20 circles from the shortcrust pastry. Press into prepared pan holes, covering them with a tea towel as you go, to prevent them drying out.
Brush inside pastry cases (this prevents them going soggy), and the edges, with egg.
Divide cooled lamb mixture among pastry cases.
Using a 7cm (2¾-inch)  round cutter, cut out 20 circles from the puff pastry. Place on top of pies. Press edges together to seal. Brush tops of pies with egg, and prick with a fork.
Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown.
Serve with tomato sauce, chunky tomato relish or Easy spiced tomato chutney.

  • If you don’t have a 10cm (4-inch) round cutter, trace around a lid with a sharp knife (a lid from a 450g tin of Milo is the perfect size).
  • Join scraps of leftover pastry together and make little egg pies for breakfast or lunch. Grease and line standard-sized muffin pans with shortcrust or puff pastry. To make four, mix together 2 beaten eggs, a little chopped ham and grated tasty cheese. Pour into pastry cases (up to ¾ full). Bake at 220°C (425ºF) for 15-20 minutes.
  • The mini lamb and mint pies can be cooked the day before and stored in the fridge. If using fresh lamb ragù (not frozen) you can freeze the cooked mini lamb and mint pies, between sheets of baking paper, for up to one month. Thaw overnight in the fridge. 
  • To reheat pre-cooked pies, place the pies on a baking tray and bake at 180°C (350ºF) for 15 minutes, or until heated through.