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Middle Eastern Spiced Lamb

October 1, 2002

I like the fresh clean flavours of Middle Eastern food. There are plenty of relatively guilt-free recipes to choose from and many dishes are simple to prepare but delicious to eat.

While today's recipe may seem to have a longish list of ingredients, read it through and you'll see it's basically a few salad items, herbs and spices.

The sauce that goes on the dish is simplicity itself - plain yoghurt with some tahini - a sesame paste. Tahini has a delicious nutty flavour and when added to yoghurt causes the latter to thicken up. You can add some crushed garlic to the sauce. You might like to add a little salt if your not on a sodium restricted diet.

Once upon a time I used to make my own pita bread, and it's fairly simple to make. Far easier, though, to pick up a pack at the local supermarket now there are plenty of commercially made specialty breads like this available.

As it's officially spring here in New Zealand, this meal makes a change from winter fare. It's also nice and palate reviving if it's autumn where you are.

Middle Eastern Spiced Lamb

400g lamb cut into thin strips (I used lamb rump)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon each ground cumin, dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and sumac
2 tomatoes
1/2 cucumber
1 spring onion
4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
juice 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
mixed baby lettuce leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1 small container plain unsweetened yoghurt
2 tablespoons tahini
salt to taste
pita bread

Place the strips of lamb in a dish. Add the first measure of olive oil and turn well to coat. Mix the spices together and sprinkle evenly over the lamb. Set aside to marinate for an hour.

Dice the tomatoes and cucumber and place in a bowl. Add the chopped spring onion, fresh coriander, a tablespoon of oil and half the lemon juice and mix well together.

Place the lettuce leaves in a bowl and add the remaining lemon juice and oil. Grind over some black pepper.

Place the yoghurt in a small bowl and stir in the tahini, Season with salt to taste.

Heat a non-stick pan and when it is sufficiently hot, stirfry the lamb until it is cooked medium rare. You won't need any more oil that is already on the lamb. Do not overcook. Place in a serving dish.

Heat the pita bread in a hot oven or microwave.

Place all the dishes on a table and allow diners to serve themselves - split open the pita bread and spoon in some meat, salad leaves, tomato mix and tahini sauce.


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