Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Syrian Lamb Pillau

Syrian Lamb Pillau

A healthy family meal, with subtle flavours. This is Levantine cuisine, but also attributed to the Syrians. I learnt this at a a young age by my mothers closest friend. I consider her my aunt, perhaps not by birth or by blood but by affection and choice. She is the most wonderful cook and human being. She has the magic to create - and has always been the most gracious hostess. Proud of her beautiful  home, her table laden with a delicious array of dishes is a norm and never an exception. 
With her beloved Syria clearly under destruction she is heart broken. Wars destroy. Yet sadly mankind repeatedly repeats these horrid mistakes. 
We are often at similar cross roads, having been displaced or immigrated through war and by choice. The constant thoughts about borders in general the decision to publish the next cookbook is "Food Across Borders "-  how Parsi Food has survived despite the community often crossing borders in large numbers. 
In that context this recipe is offered as a "candle of peace and hope".  In remembrance of my aunt and all the others like her from Syria who wish they had peace and the free will to live in their own homeland. Food is a universal language which showers us with the warmth of caring, harmony and joy. May the continuity of such delicacies honour Syria's rich culture, history and heritage over the centuries.

A simple dish of meats, eggplants, tomatoes and rice.

Served 6 to 8 persons

1 kg lamb/mutton/goat meat, in pieces, bone in
1 large onion, cut up in pieces
8 cloves
8 peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods
1 tsp salt
8 cups water

2 eggplant/aubergine; 16 to 18 thick slices
olive oil to brush it
sprinkle of salt

oil to fry
2 large onions, sliced finely 
400 gm of hand cut mince of lamb/mutton /goat  boneless meat

2 large tomatoes sliced
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

3 cups washed basmati rice
3 tbsp tomato paste
juice of one large juicy lemon 

Step 1 

Boil together in a large stock pot  until tender; the meat, onion, cloves, pepper corns, cinnamon, cardamoms and salt in the 8 cups of water. 
Top up with water as needed allowing for about 6 cups of stock  to be left over when done. Strain the stock through a sieve and keep aside.

Step 2

Roast on a cookie sheet, till golden brown; the aubergines, brushed with olive oil. Sprinkle over with salt after it is done.

Step 3

In a skillet heat the oil and fry  the 2 onions until caramelised to a golden brown. Remove and keep aside.
In the same skillet fry the hand cut chopped meat until nicely browned.
Sprinkle  it with salt and the garam masala; continue to cook it for a minute or two. Remove from the flame and keep aside.

To assemble

In a large lightly greased pot arrange the two sliced tomatoes on the bottom.
Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over it and spread the fried chopped pieces of meat all over. Please the larger boiled pieces of meat and cover it with half the roasted aubergine slices. Cover the eggplants with the washed rice
3 cups of washed basmati rice. Pour 5 cups of the meat stock over ensuring the rice is completely covered. Bring it all to a rapid boil and allow it to cook until you see the top of the rice cooking. Now add the last cup of stock mixed in  well with the tomato paste and lemon juice.
Finally add the rest of  the roasted eggplant/ aubergine slices.

Cover the pan tightly and steam for a good 25 minutes until the rice is cooked through. Allow it to rest for another 10 minutes and overturn it on to a platter.


Add your favourite cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg or other mild crushed whole spices if you wish instead of the garam masala. 

You may need a 3rd extra eggplant/aubergine to get the number of slices needed. The roasted aubergine gives the dish creaminess.

Save the pine nuts for sprinkling at the very end if you do not like them ''cooked''.

My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on amazon.

The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022. 

The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through amazon book depot book depository and from the publishers.

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