This is a delicious persian styled lamb stew or khoresht which tastes fantastic. There are many combinations of fruit, meat and fowl which make these dishes irresistible. They usually contain lots of dried or fresh fruits, herbs and spices but critically are soured with the addition of lemon juice, dry limes, verjuice or pomegranate.
Running on a common theme of mine, they offer maximum taste and enjoyment for the diner, and minimum effort from the cook - the perfect combination!
If possible prepare the stew the day before eating - the flavours will develop wonderfully be greatly enhanced the following day!
750 g lamb shoulder (off the bone)
80 ml good quality olive oil
2 brown onions, diced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried cumin
4 cardamom pods, split, seeds removed and crushed
2 tea spoons sea salt
400 ml chicken stock
120 g pitted prunes
120 g dried apricots
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 dried lime
juice of 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon of saffron threads, dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
1 very large handful chopped mint leaves
30 g roasted almonds
a little coriander
400 g butternut squash - peeled and diced (2cm dice)
sea salt and a little freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
As with all stews of this nature we begin by browning the lamb. Cut the lamb into 4 cm chunks. We're using shoulder as it's not lean, and we'll end up with lovely melting streaks of fat running through the meat in the final dish!. Heat some good quality olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the lamb in batches, ensuring a good, even colouring - although clearly not burnt, over a medium to high heat. When browned remove each batch and set aside.
Add a little more olive oil if necessary into the pan used for browning, and add the onions, browning gently over a medium heat. When soft and lightly browned, add the spices and sea salt and stir until the delicious fragrance is released.
Now return the lamb and any juices to the pan, add the chicken stock, and simmer over a low heat, covered for 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Now add the prunes, apricots, sugar, dried lime, lime juice and saffron water. Cover and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the lamb is very tender.
Whilst the stew is in its' final 30 minutes or so of simmering, let's cook the butternut squash. Preheat the oven to 200 C. Cut the squash into 2 cm diced cubes, mix with the extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and a little freshly ground black pepper. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until soft and lightly browned.
Add the squash to the stew and mix carefully. If possible, place lid on and set aside for the following day.
30 minutes before serving, heat the stew over a medium/low heat. Add in the mint leaves and stir carefully. Just prior to serving garnish the dish with the roasted almonds and a little coriander.
This dish is fabulous served with saffron flavoured steamed rice. Additional accompaniments could include pan fried and lightly spiced egg plant, or steamed green vegetables. Tabbouleh would be great on the side also!
The perfect dish for supper amongst friends, minimum cooking effort required, and little time away from the table!