It was only on Sunday that I picked up the first three of the The Daily Telegraph’s mini cookbooks. Emphasis being on mini here which allows for the $2 price tag on all positions apart from Jamie Oliver’s mini Jamie does…, which was free! The mini book collection featuring 15 of Australia’s favourite chefs and cooks is a part of the Daily Telegraph’s / Sunday Telegraph’s Food Month running May 8 – June 2 (not available in QLD).
At $2, the value of the little books to an average you and I is great, considering the booklets are practically concise versions of the full $30-$60 books – pictures, recipes, the lot. The other book I managed to pick up on Sunday was Abla Amad’s mini Abla’s Lebanese Kitchen.
Pleased with my bargain-priced shopping, upon getting home I quickly flicked through the books for the night’s dinner inspiration. And while I admit I rarely follow a recipe to a tee, I was this close to committing to a number of Gary’s and Abla’s rich, flavorful, comfort dishes. Greek? Italian? Lebanese? Moroccan? Egyptian? I couldn’t make up my mind, plus I was limited to what was in the pantry and freezer. So, instead, I decided to mix and match: Mediteranean! Perfect.
The result exceeded my expectations! I’ve turned from a lamb disliker to a lamb lover. Dukkah lamb lover. The meat was marinated and cooked perfectly on the barbecue. By me! The eggplant was soft and lightly charred. The sauce was a flavourful, wholesome pantry number with fragrant fresh herbs, tomatoes and chickpeas – great for vegetarians.
Mr Chipconnoisseur loved the lamb too although he was slightly overwhelmed by the Mount Everest of chickpea sauce I served up for him. And he believed that there was not enough of the “white stuff” on the lamb. The “white stuff” being the garlic and paprika labne – a Middle Eastern strained yoghurt cheese. Creamy perfection, so I’ve adjusted the recipe accordingly. Finally, a grate of fresh lemon zest lifted the whole thing up with a fresh zing!
All in under 30 minutes, I guess Jamie would have been proud.
Dukkah lamb with grilled eggplant, chickpea tomato sauce and garlicky yoghurt cheese
Dukkah (duqqa or dukka) is an Egyptian nut, spice and seed mix served as a starter with oil and bread for dipping, but is also great for crusting meat. I used the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop dukkah mix.
Once again, the number of ingredients may off-putting but to put things into perspective the idea started with 5 ingredients: lamb steaks, canned tomato, chickpeas, eggplant, yoghurt cheese. The rest are those flavourful spice and herb embellishments that turn an otherwise plain dish into a Mediterranean feast.
- 2 lamb leg steaks
- 1 tbsp Italian herb mix
- 1 tbsp steak seasoning
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 4 tbsp dukkah
- zest of half a lemon, to serve
Side of eggplant, tomato chickpeas
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 can chickpeas, drained
- 1/4 cup piquillo peppers, chopped
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 Spanish onion, sliced thinly
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Labne cheese topping
- 4 tbsp labne
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Dukkah lamb: Mix all ingredients apart from the zest and steaks in a small bowl. Spoon mixture over steaks and rub in. Allow to marinate while you prepare the sauce and heat up the barbecue to hot. [You can also grill the steaks on a hot setting under the oven grill for 5 minutes on each side.]
Side of eggplant, tomato chickpeas: Cut eggplant into 0.5cm thick slices. Sprinkle with sea salt and set aside to barbecue or grill alongside the lamb. In a saucepan combine tomatoes, chickpeas, piquillo peppers, cinnamon, tumeric, parsley, coriander and brown sugar. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 or so minutes to cook the sauce down. Stir occcasionally.
Labne cheese topping: Mix labne with crushed garlic and paprika. Refrigerate until needed.
Putting the dish together: Barbecue or grill the lamb and eggplant for about 5 minutes on each side, the eggplant should be lightly charred. Allow lamb to rest for 2 minutes before slicing. Arrange 2 eggplant slices on a plate. Top with tomato chickpea sauce, sliced onion and extra parsley. Place sliced lamb next to it and top with labne. Grate some lemon zest over the whole dish and serve.