Sunday, October 23, 2011

Shirazi-Style Pan Cooked Lamb Kebab

I enjoy looking at the photos in Food of Life, but so many of  Najmieh Batmanglij's recipes are more appropriate for a feast than as dinner for two people.  But, this kebab recipe was easily scaled back for two people.

I know kebabs require skewers, but the only ones I have right now are metal and too long to fit in my largest pan.  So, I improvised! This Persian dish looks really awesome in the pan as it cooks.  It's a little less pretty as the tomatoes break down, but the lamb is so tender!  This dish is cooked by layering onion slices, lamb chunks, and tomatoes, to allow the tomatoes to release their juices over the meat and onions. 

Onions, lamb, and tomatoes layered in the pan.  Also look, my stove is clean!

This recipe called for several different garnishes but didn't provide a suggestion for their placement.  I decided to julienne some of the basil leaves, slice the scallions, and serve the meat mixture on top of the lavash bread.  Next time, I think I'll cut the bread into pieces and serve it on either side of the meat so the bread doesn't get soggy in the middle. 

Three ingredients in the original recipe weren't available to me when I made this: boned leg of lamb (I used shoulder instead), rose water (I substituted hot water), and fig leaves (which are only part of the garnish). I also didn't have skewers that fit in my pan.

Shirazi-Style Pan Cooked Lamb Kebab
Slightly adapted from Food of Life
Serves 2

1 lb boned leg of lamb cut into 2 inch cubes
5-6 wooden skewers (optional, in my case)
1/4 cup oil or butter
1 large onion (make sure it's a big onion, really)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp saffron powder dissolved in 1 Tbsp rose water (or hot water)
zest of 1 lime
1 large tomato, peeled* and sliced into rings (I used two vine tomatoes since they looked pretty small)

Juice of 1 lime
1 cup plain drained yogurt
Lavash bread
Fresh basil
Fig leaves (optional)

* To peel a tomato easily, cut a small, shallow X in the bottom of the tomato and put it in a bowl.  Then boil some water and pour it over the tomato.  Let it sit for about 1 minute (not longer) and then remove it from the water w/ tongs or fork.  The skin should peel easily from the tomato where the X was cut.

1) Rinse and drain the lamb.  Grease a large, wide, and shallow pot with about 1/8 cup oil.
2) Peel the onions and slice them into rings.  Arrange them in a layer to fit the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper, a little of the saffron water, and the zest of 1/2 lime.
3) Place the lamb on top of the onions, sprinkle with a little more salt, pepper, and saffron water.  Top with the zest of 1/2 lime.  Arrange the sliced tomato on top, season with salt and pepper, and evenly drizzle the remaining oil over the contents of the pan.
4) Cover tightly and cook over low heat for 2 to 2.5 hours, or until the lamb is tender.  Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. 
5) Arrange 1 piece of lavash bread on each plate in any manner you want.  My version got soggy in the middle, I wouldn't do it that way again. 
6) Place the lamb, tomato, and onion mixture on the plate and garnish with scallions and julienned basil.  Drizzle the lime juice over the lamb.  Add some of the pan juices if you want, too. 
7)  I'd serve some rice with this next time, in addition to the small salad. 

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