ot another dip I hear you say? And not another Moroccan and middle Eastern themed recipe. Yes. Please continue. A boozy and wonderful dinner party in the Wiltshire countryside this weekend was enhanced as it naturally would be by the addition of a Middle Eastern themed feast! And gracious guests of course! And the weather seemed to be on it best behaviour for most of the time rather suitably while we guzzled bubbly Saumur and nibbles. The downpour and lightening only theatrically threatened to steal the attention late into the evening when the food had already stolen my guests hearts. It reminded me a little of my recent venture to Morocco where a hearty downpour after a heavy humid day was still not enough to spoil the show once the hearty tanginess graced our dining tables.
Kicking off with a round (or two) of sparkling Saumur, my new and cheaper favourite alternative to Champagne, to set the tone, this cheesy spiced Turkish/Bulgarian dip went down a treat. A lovely alternative to the usual humus this is perfect with some mini ‘olive oil cracker tongues’ (see here) adapted with the addition of some sweet smoked paprika and rolled smaller and bite sized.
While the middle East is always a source of natural inspiration for me, both these recipes were inspired by a new cookbook purchase that has weakened my already full and bursting cookbook shelf. Bought on a whim having been won over in a trace by the initial sparkling textured cover and once in side, by the beautiful photos and recipe combinations that steal my foodie heart. Adapated slighty but quite welcomely without much amending. Persiana, Sabrina Ghayour. A delightful book for any cookbook collector, food lover or photography buff.
Serves 8 as a nibble with drinks
- 100g pistachios, shelled
- 75ml olive oil
- 200g feta cheese
- Handful chopped dill
- Large bunch of coriander leaves
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1/2 red chilli, chopped
- 3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
- zest 1 lemon, juice of 1/2
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp dukka (see here) to garish (optional)
- Blend the pistachios and oil in a processor for 30 seconds.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until you get a smooth but rustic texture. Season to taste
- Spoon onto a shallow bowl or plate. Sprinkle with any leftover dill leaves, the dukka and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
- Serve with olive oil crackers.
Dips and drinks were followed by a slow roasted, shredded and falling off the bone leg of lamb spiced to the nines with Moroccan love. Zesty lime yoghurt and cumin dipping salt on the side of a fresh allotment picked raw vegetable salad….
- 1 large leg of lamb on the bone (2.5kg approx)
- 50g butter
- 2 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbsp sea salt flakes
- Handful coriander leaves to garnish
Cumin dipping salt
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp flaky sea salt
- Pinch cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a large roasting tin.
- Mark deep incisions over the lamb with a sharp knife
- In a small bowl, place the butter, spiced, thyme, and garlic and blend into a paste. Rub the paste over the land and into the incisions.
- Place the lamb in the tin and pour in 1 large glass white wine. Cover with foil and cook for 4 hours.
- During this time, baste the lamb with any juices every 40 minutes or so.
- After 4 hours, turn the oven up to 190°C. Remove the foil and finish the cooking for the final 1 hour uncovered to brown the top and crisp the skin.
- Meanwhile, for the dipping salt, dry fry the cumin seeds in a hot frying pan for a few minutes until fragrant. Tip into a pestle and mortar and grind. Add the salt and cinnamon and grind together lightly. Tip into a small ramekin or bowl.
- After 5 hours, remove the lamb from the over. Cover with foil and leave to rest for about 15 minutes.
- When ready to serve, carve the lamb which should tenderly fall from the bone. Carve into chunky pieces and slice the herbed skin. Serve on a large warmed serving platter, scattered with coriander leaves.
- Serve e.g some turmeric and cumin roasted new potatoes, fresh raw green salad and a limey creamy yoghurt.