We’ve got a super recipe for you this week from Vicky Jones' Out of the Pod. The perfect Valentine’s meal; you can leave this simmering away on the stove while you chat over a glass of wine, then impress your date with the bright colours and wonderful Persian flavours! You could scale down the recipe for two, or why not make the whole thing and enjoy it for leftovers for the next day? Either way, you’ve got a week to plan your meal and we think this delicious lamb casserole would be a big hit!
Persian lamb casserole with chickpeas and herbs
Rich lamb stews are very popular in Iran, although traditionally they would often contain very little meat. All kinds of vegetables, fruits and pulses would be added to give body to the hotpot, as well as handfuls of fresh herbs, and the stew is usually served with rice. Iranians love the sweet and sour flavours that were a feature of many medieval English dishes, a formula that survives to this day in the form of the traditional mint sauce which accompanies roast lamb.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 kg/2 lbs. shoulder of lamb, bone, fat and gristle removed, cubed
3 large onions, chopped
8 garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
500 g/21/2 cups cooked, soaked dried chickpeas (garbanzos), or the contents of 2 x 400-g/14-oz. cans, drained
6 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
3 tablespoons white wine, freshly squeezed lime juice or verjuice
200 g/7 oz. spinach or Swiss chard leaves, chopped
a generous handful of chopped fresh coriander/cilantro and mint
salt and ground black pepper
sugar, to taste
pomegranate seeds or barberries, if available, to serve
boiled rice, to serve
Greek yogurt, to serve
warmed flatbread, to serve
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large casserole dish or frying pan/skillet and fry the lamb until browned. You may have to do this half at a time to ensure that the meat is nicely caramelized on the surface. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook gently until soft. Then add the spices, chickpeas, tomatoes and wine, lime juice or verjuice. Stir well, adding a splash or water if necessary, cover and simmer for around 1 hour, until the lamb is tender.
Towards the end of cooking, sauté the spinach or chard leaves in a tablespoon of olive oil, and add to the casserole. Stir in the chopped fresh herbs.
If using barberries, soak them in water for 10 minutes, then sauté briefly in oil.
Check the seasoning, adding salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Strew pomegranate seeds or barberries over and serve with boiled rice, Greek yogurt and warmed flatbread.
Out of the Pod by Vicky Jones is available here.