Sunday, September 19, 2010

North African-Inspired Ground Lamb Stew with Chickpeas, Preserved Lemons and Olives

Tasty Boy loves keema (which is what ground meat is called in Hindi and Bengali). Not a particular keema recipe, but any form of ground meat. So I have 3 to 4 favourite keema recipes that I tend to rotate on a bi-weekly basis and constantly tinker with for variety. I came up with this recipe in a fit of boredom with my existing repertoire. It’s inspired by many of the stewed meat recipes by May Bsisu and Claudia Roden, but doesn’t strictly adhere to either of them. This is a colourful, tangy, one-pot mish-mash of North African and Mediterranean flavours, which beautifully enhance the sweet gamy-ness of lamb, and is perfect by the bowlful, sopped-up with a pillowy mound of couscous or rice.

3 tbsp whole Coriander
1 tbsp whole Cumin
3 tbsp Olive Oil
2 Bay leaves
1 large Onion, sliced
2 whole Cinnamon sticks
3 whole Cardamom pods
6 cloves Garlic, roughly smashed
3 Carrots, peeled and chopped into 1”-thick chunks
2 lbs ground Lamb
2 tbsp Harissa powder
1 tsp Chilli powder
1 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 lbs canned Chickpeas, drained and thoroughly washed
2 whole Preserved Lemons, cut into quarters
2 cups Olives, whole
Salt (to taste)
1 cup Parsley, roughly chopped
4 cups Water
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  1. In a large, flat-bottomed pot, dry-roast the cumin and coriander together over high heat for 3-4 mins until golden brown. Remove spices from pot and grind them with a mortar and pestle. Set aside. 
  2. In the same pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bay leaves, onions, cinnamon and cardamom, and gently fry for 4-5 mins until the onions are glossy and translucent. Add garlic and carrots and continue frying for another 5 mins. 
  3. Add ground lamb and cook for 5-7 mins until the lamb has lost its pinkish colour. Then add harissa powder, ground coriander and cumin, chilli powder and black pepper, stir well, and continue cooking for 5 mins. 
  4. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, preserved lemons, olives, salt and parsley and stir well. Add water and bring to a brisk boil, then lower heat, put the lid on the pot, and simmer for 45 mins-1hr, stirring occasionally. If the pot starts to get dry add ½ cup of water at a time, as required. 
  5. Turn off heat and let sit for 15-20 mins. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve over couscous or rice.

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