lamb mechoui with pumpkin salad

Last time I made lamb chops I used one of Nigella´s recipes from Forever Summer. It was marinated in cumin and yogurt and then grilled in the oven. Unfortunately, it wasn´t my kind of flavour combination, so yesterday when it was time for lamb chops again, I wanted to try something new.

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 back to the recipe.

The Clarks first tried these chops in Marrakech when visiting an outdoor market few kilometres outside the city.

Lamb Mechoui with Cumin and Paprika Salt
serves 2

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
Mix the spices and salt together in a bowl. When you are ready to grill the chops, brush them with the melted butter, sprinkle liberally with half the cumin mixture and throw them on a smoking griddle pan or a barbecue that is not too hot or place under a hot grill in the oven.

According to Sam and Sam you will need 5-8 minutes either side for pink, turning once or twice. I used a griddle pan and in 8 minutes the chops were well done!

Serve immediately with some of the remaining cumin salt on the side. This is delicious on it´s own with bread and/or with a Moroccan salad.

Since I am trying to cut down on farinaceous food (don´t say a word, cakes don´t count) I decided to serve this with salad, no bread.

I chose the salad from the same book, and really it was mostly because I did have a huge slice of pumpkin in my fridge that waited to be used.

Pumpkin Salad
serves 2

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.

(These glasses I bought in a box and they were so strategically wrapped that I just didn´t see how over the top they were! LOL It´s crazy what you sometimes can find in Middle Eastern stores)


Kelly-Jane said…
That sounds like a delicious recipe. I've had both the Moro books for ages, but I don't think I've gotten round to cooking anything...yet.

That's really confusing with the cumin and caraway!
Shaun said…
Vonsachsen - This sounds really very good. I have seen the Moro books but have neither, and I admit that I was a little bit put off with the books upon reading Jeanne's (at the blog Cooksister) review of the restaurant. Maybe I'll give the books another look. On a sidenote, I used caraway seeds for the first time when making gulyas...I loved them because they have a faint anise aroma...yummy. I now want to make Swedish rolls that use caraway. I love the is quite beautiful, however over-the-top.
Lisa said…
It took me a minute, but I think I've got it about the cumin. But now I wonder if Hungarians utilize a ground caraway, and if so, what is that called?
Frankly, I'm still trying to figure out my various paprikas. A recipe usually calls for just "paprika," but I've got "Paprika," "sweet paprika," and "smoky paprika (pimenton)."
I'm glad you liked your meal, and must say that I think your tea glasses are lovely, and that is a beautiful picture.
vonsachsen said…
Thanks for your support guys, every new blooger really neeeeeeds that :)

You know how it is with certain cookbooks, you kind of like it but don´t really cook from it. Then the more you are using it, the more recipes you discover. I think (or hope?)that Casa Moro is going to be one of those.

Shaun and Lisa, you should see those glasses "live" :D They are freeking me out! There are some golden roses all around them and arabic letters, don´t even know what that means :D I think I just found a "nice angle" taking that pic...

Lisa, about the ground caraway, most often we use whole caraway seeds, and we don´t have any particular name for ground caraway...not that I know of anyway. When it comes to paprika, in hungarian kitchen we normally use sweet paprika, that way food is edible even for children. Often we use the hot paprika in the typical fish soup, sometimes in gulyás but I very often substitute the sweet paprika to the hot one if I feel like something warming. Smoked paprika I think is mostly used in Spain (don´t know which part though) but if I remember it right Diana Henry has written about this topic in Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons.
Shaun said…
Vonsachsen - Oooh...I have just noted that you mention Diana Henry's "Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons". Do you have it? Can you tell me about it? I am curious as I have her "Roast Figs, Sugar Snow" and am IN LOVE with it.
vonsachsen said…
Shaun,I prefer the "feel" of RFSS, but I have cooked more from CWPL (perhaps because I live in a colder climate). There are recipes from Andalucia, Iran,Georgia, Middle East and Sicily. The structure of the book reminds me of RFSS,where Ms Henry introduces every chapter with a few pages about the ingredients and short tips how you can use them.There are chapters like: "The spice trail" - cardamom, chilli, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, coriander, pimentón and saffron, "Fragrance of Earth" - lavender, rosemary, thyme and oregano, "Fruits of longing" - figs, quinces, pomegranates and dates, "Heaven Scent" - flowers and flower waters. Very poetic and complements well the dreamy pictures and quotes.
If you LOVE RFSS, you can´t go wrong with CWPL. It´s just that this book is lighter, brighter,whiter, an exotic summer version of RFSS.
Lisa said…
Thanks for the info on the paprikas, it's good for me to learn. I was reluctant to get CWPL b/c I thought it would be too exotic and that I wouldn't use it, but I really love it and can recommend it, too. I must have missed her writing on paprika, so will go look. Shaun, you should get it.

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