As a student, I had the good fortune to live in Damascus for a year. Syria is a fascinating country and throughout my stay there I was introduced to a host of wonderful dishes.
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 35 minutes
You’ll need a large stockpot.
Ingredients - serves four
- 500g fresh lamb neck fillets
- One large onion
- Tablespoon olive oil
- Four garlic cloves
- One large aubergine
- Half bulb fennel
- 100g fresh root ginger (Child’s hand size)
- One tine of chopped or whole plum tomatoes
- One tin of chickpeas
- One teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- One tablespoon whole coriander seeds
- One tablespoon whole fennel seeds
- Half a finely chopped dried red chilli
- Sea salt and ground black pepper
- Bunch of fresh coriander
Young lamb works best for this recipe, as you don’t have to simmer it for hours on the stove!
Crush the cumin and fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar, and then add the coriander seeds. Grind the lot so that there are no whole seeds remaining (sawdust is what you are after rather than a fine powder).
Cut the neck fillets into 2cm chunks and place in a bowl with the crushed seeds. Give it a good mix round with your hand to make sure every piece of meat is coated with the spices.
Finely chop the onion. Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot, add the chopped onion and cook over a low heat until the onion begins to take on a little colour. Add the chopped garlic, turn up the heat a little and add the chopped chilli and the meat. Brown the meat on all sides.
Chop the aubergine into 2cm chunks and add this to the meat mixture and stir.
Turn the heat down and add the tin of tomatoes with a little water, season to taste and cover the pan with a lid. Simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the drained tin of chickpeas together with the peeled and coarsely grated ginger and the coarsely grated fennel. Cook for a further ten minutes, add the chopped fresh coriander, stir in and remove from heat. Let stand for two or three minutes before serving.
This dish goes well with couscous.