Friday, May 1, 2009

A night in Lebanon

I feel really compelled to write tonight. I just had a really good friend over for dinner, someone I have known for years. I wanted to cook meat, as I know I don’t eat it enough and need to make time to prepare it. As my favourite cuisines are middle eastern I decided to do lamb and use the following base ingredients which are very prominent in this style of cooking: garlic; lemon; parsley; pomegranate; almonds; and cumin.

I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare anything amazing, so I had to think of something which was easy to whip up yet still impressive. My friend, Brad, was bringing over cous cous and greens so I figured I’d do a simple salad with the cous cous however, I couldn’t try to add to many flavours to both as they could possibly clash and overwhelm each other.

Once I went to the butcher to buy the meat I decided how to do the lamb. I bought lamb shanks (which I have cooked before Moroccan Style) and this is similar but Lebanese use a few different spice mix. While Moroccan is generally cumin, paprika, cinnamon, lemon, red chilli and olive oil, for a standard spice mix, Lebanese uses cumin, garlic, lemon, green chilli and olive oil. I also added green olives and let the shanks just braise for about an hour, till they were soft and the liquids had reduced to a thick sauce.

The cous cous honestly took about 7 minutes to prepare, quicker if I hadn’t forgotten about the almonds toasting in the griller….which I smelt after they were well and truly charred.

Such a simple, healthy meal which is full of amazing flavours, and is impressive if you have time constraints. I am so satisfied after enjoying it too, I didn’t even want dessert, which is very rare for me.

The one thing I did not do however, was take photos. I was enjoying the cooking and the conversation that I didn’t want to take time out to set up the shots this particular time….but don’t worry, I’ll be cooking tomorrow night and will definitely document that in images.

Lamb braised with garlic, lemon and green olives

3 cloves garlic
½ Spanish onion
1 green chilli, with seeds
2 lemons
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1 ½ cups Chicken Stock
3 lamb shanks


1) Chop garlic, onion and chilli finely. Sautee in a pot with EVOO on a low heat until onions translucent.
2) Add lemon juice, cumin, stock to pot and then season. Add shanks and mix around so they get coated in liquid. Simmer with a lid on for at least an hour. (You must monitor the amount of liquid and every so often turn the shanks so they are immersed in liquid. If it starts to dry up, add extra water).
3) Serve with cous cous and greens (see below)

Pomgranate, Almond, Parsley and Lemon Cous Cous

½ pomegranate
1 ½ cups almonds
1 lemon, juiced
1 ½ cups cous cous


1) Clean Pomegranate seeds into a bowl.
2) Toast almonds until browned, then once cooled, crush or cut coarsely.
3) Chop up parsley very finely.
4) Put cous cous in a large bowl and add 1 cup boiling water, a generous drizzle of EVOO and lemon juice then mix until absorbed well. If it is too dry, add more water. Should be moist and fluffy.
5) Add pomegranate, almonds and parsley to cous cous and stir through, adjusting amount of lemon juice to your liking.


Sophie said...

Yum yum Yum,...what a beautiful plate of food, I think!
What is EVOO?

---trish--- said... was... I wish I took time.

EVOO is extra virgin olive oil. I just didn't want to rewrite it every single time.

I would use a nice fruity one for the cous cous so it gives the dish a fresh and vibrant flavour, and with the lamb a nice pungent and grassy oil that is extremely give it some bite.

Ivy said...

Trish you know that Cypriot cuisine has been influence a lot by Middle Eastern cuisine and this is definitely a dish I would love. You just reminded me of a Moroccan Lamb (actually it was goat) I prepared ages ago and have not posted yet.

---trish--- said...

Yes Ivy the are very similar in flavours. I suppose if I added some cinnamon and paprika also, maybe with some dates, it would have made it more moroccan.

Ooh, if you can, post up your goat. That is one meat I have never cooked with before.