I apologise to those who follow a recipe closely, I am not that person, so I hope this is accurate enough!
This is a tremendous dish for big gatherings and can be put together mostly beforehand. It’s a black rice pilaf with slow roasted lamb, that features loads of spicy mixed roasted veg, nuts, seeds, herbs, dried fruit and a fancy yogurt topping. It’s filling, nutritious, not too expensive and the lamb can easily be left out to cater for vegetarians. It can be served warm or room-temp depending on your timing. This recipe feeds about 8 people…
2 cups: Choose black or wild rice and cook to the packet instructions. Set aside
Medium dice a mix of vegetables – I prefer red onion, carrots, pumpkin, beetroot , red capsicum and zucchini for this, and I always leave the skins on. Also include here a minimum of four whole garlic cloves, and up to 10 if you’re garlic obsessed. Dice enough veg to take up two big flat oven trays (or more if you’re leaving the lamb out). Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, a tablespoon of ground coriander, two tablespoons of ground cumin powder and if you’re feeling fancy, add some ground fenugreek, dried chilli or any other spice that you like. Mix to coat and roast on medium heat until cooked. Note that the beetroot can take a bit longer than the others so I tend to roast this separately. Once cooked, set aside.
A day prior, slow roast a lamb shoulder or leg – something with a bone in is ideal but any relatively fatty cut will do. You’ll need about 1.5kg roughly, with the bone in. I normally do this in the slow cooker overnight with a mix of water, oil, garlic, & onion in the bottom, but an oven at 125 degrees for 8 hours is an easy option also. Add as much garlic, herbs, stock, salt & pepper as you like and I always like to keep a lid on and keep some liquid in the bottom. Once done, cool, and pull the lamb off the bone while discarding any chunky bits of fat. Refrigerate.
Seeds, fruit, herbs & nuts
This is all about personal preference while adding some crunch & sweetness. I use in total about 500 grams of nuts, seeds and dried fruit, normally comprised of toasted pumpkin & sunflower seeds, crushed & toasted almonds, toasted pine nuts and toasted walnuts. For the fruit, I prefer dried currants and small diced dried apricots -about half of the total mix. As for the herbs, go wild – I use a handful of parsley, chives and dill. But I think parsley is the most important in this mix.
The Yoghurt Dressing
The base mix is three parts natural yoghurt with one part tahini. I tend to make heaps of this – so I use 750 grams of yoghurt and 250 grams tahini – then mix into this 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 heaped teaspoons of cumin powder and 1 heaped teaspoon of coriander powder – you can adjust the spice mix to your taste, add half to start and taste as you go.
The garlic goes in here too. Depending on your taste, mash up 2-4 roasted garlic cloves and mix in, and if you have more spare, add these in the step below. You can add some honey (or similar) if you prefer it sweeter.
Putting it all together
In a huge bowl, mix the rice, vegetables, nuts, herbs, fruit and seeds. Add a few big glugs of olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Tip this out onto a big, flat oven proof platter and spread out about 3-5 cm thick. Add the lamb over the top, adding olive oil and seasoning. If you like to serve warm, put this in a low oven for half an hour before serving. When ready to serve, you can top with the yoghurt and some fresh pomegranate seeds & chopped parsley. I like keep some extra dressing aside for the table too.
The diversity of flavours in this means the wine needs to sit confidently in the background and not try and outshine the food. My preference would be a soft, easy drinking red such as gamay or pinot meunier or even a nice savory rose – all of which will cope with the spice, yoghurt and complement the lamb. But really, as with most things, drink what you like!