lamb mechoui with pumpkin salad
I ploughed through the indexes of my cookbooks and I finally I settled for the Lamb Mechoui by Sam and Sam Clark. I was happy to try something from Casa Moro as I´ve had that book for more than a year but only cooked one recipe from it (which BTW turned out great!). What cought my interest were the spices used, because they reminded me very much of the Hungarian kitchen. Just think of gulyás with salt, pepper, paprika and cumin and you can´t find anything more Hungarian! Now I was really curious, how could something taste Moroccan when you use a Hungarian spice combination?
I started to understand as soon I opened the cumin that I bought in a Middle Eastern shop. Smelled completely different from the cumin I was used to! I needed to investigate this, so I turned to my books for some help. It turned out that this misunderstanding was based on my ignorance. I took it for granted that the cumin was the same spice that is called kummin in Swedish, Kümmel in German, kömény in Hungarian. Well, it wasn´t.
Carum Carvi(Latin) = caraway seeds(Eng), kummin(Swe), Kümmel(Ger), kömény(Hun)
Cuminum Cyminum (Latin) = cumin(Eng), spiskummin(Swe), Kreuzkümmel(Ger), római kömény(Hun)
So this was the end of my theory about Hungarian spices in Moroccan food :D We use caraway seeds in Hungarian cooking and Moroccans use cumin. Are you still with me? I wouldn´t blame you if you got tired on the way to Cumin-land...now back to the recipe.
Lamb Mechoui with Cumin and Paprika Salt
1 tbsp whole cumin seeds, freshly ground
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp hot paprika
1/2 tbsp seasalt, roughly crumbled
6-8 lamb chops
20 g butter, melted
1/2 kg pumpkin or butternut squash, trimmed and cut into large chunks
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
a sprinkling of caster sugar (optional)
sea salt and black pepper
Preheat oven to 220C/425F/Gas7
Put pumpkin chunks in a large mixing bowl and add the spices and olive oil and toss the pumpkin pieces until they are lightly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Place on a roasting tray in the hot oven for a good 20-30 minutes.
Remove and cool a little before mashing. Check the seasoning, including the cinnamon. If the pumpkins are not particularly sweet, add a little caster sugar and if the mixture is very thick, thin it down with a little hot water.
I didn´t use any sugar, because although I have a sweet tooth I prefer my savoury dishes not too sweet. Also I didn´t add any hot water, just had the pumpkin as a mash. This salad is good with lamb or among a selection of cooked salads.
This was a very delicious meal, it really had a Moroccan feel about it from the first second I started to mix the spices. The chops were well done but still juicy and had a smokey flavour so I almost felt like standing up and pretending I am on a market place having a quick meal. This is something I will definitely make again, now that summer is on it´s way (in the northern hemisphere anyway) but next time I´ll have some nice, fresh flat bread to go with. Finish the meal with a glass of strong peppermint tea.