Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Aromatic lamb kebabs

Serves 4 to 6

Bengal gram, also known as chana dal, is a staple in Indian cooking and commonly used in vegetable stews. Here I've roasted and then ground to a powder to add a sweet, nutty flavour to the lamb mixture, but should you only be able to find yellow split peas, they'll do fine. Kind of goes without saying that this is merely the meat for yet another sandwich - wrap up with some lettuce and tomato and either some mint yoghurt as mentioned below or a roof of your mouth cleaning garlicky mayonnaise...

4 tblsp Bengal gram or yellow split peas
6 cardamom pods, seeds only
6 cloves
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp pink peppercorns
1 medium sweet or red onion, finely chopped
2 tblsp olive oil
500g lamb mince
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
Grated zest of 1 lime
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium egg, beaten
Mint yoghurt dip, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve

Put the Bengal gram or yellow split peas, cardamom seeds, cloves, fennel seeds and pink peppercorns in a sauté pan and roast over a moderate heat, tossing them about, until lightly toasted and aromatic. Grind them into a fine powder using a spice grinder or pestle and mortar.

Next, fry the onion in half of the oil until soft and lightly golden. Put the lamb mince in a mixing bowl and add the spice powder, onion, chillies, lime zest, the remaining oil and some salt and pepper. Mix everything together, adding just enough of the egg to bind.

Wrap the mixture around skewers, wetting your hands as you mould the meat to avoid a sticky mess, until you have used up all of the mixture. Carefully grill for about 10 minutes on a hot barbecue or griddle, turning occasionally.

Serve either straight on a platter with a mint yoghurt dip and lime wedges on the side, or wrapped up in a soft pita bread with some salad.