Sunday, 18 April 2010

Diana Henry's lamb and orange khoresh

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When I wrote about Margaret Shaida's Orange khoresh back in January, I knew I would have to revisit the version in Diana Henry's Crazy Water Pickled Lemons. Diana's version of orange stew was one of my very first forays into the wide world of Middle Eastern cooking. It really opened up my eyes and taste buds to how good the eating is in that part of the world!

There is some kind of alchemy involved in this dish. Other than orange flower water (which I consider optional, as it makes little difference to the taste in all honesty), there is nothing out of the ordinary in this recipe, but for a citrus lover like me, the results are nothing short of phenomenal!

Diana does not give a source for her recipe, but she's definitely done her homework, and perhaps even bettered the other versions of this delightful dish that I've tried since. Her addition of mint is inspired (whatever made her think of adding mint to lamb...? (g)), and really lifts this dish onto a higher plain. I use teeny, tiny peppermint leaves, which do take some prepping, but I think it's worth it.

On the other hand, Diana saves us some time by only boiling the orange peel once to remove the bitterness. Most recipes call for several changes of water to do this job. However, since we are using lamb here, it can take the stronger orange flavour very well.

I've adjusted Diana's recipe for the pressure cooker. The meat will take roughly double the time to cook in step 3 if simmering without pressure.

All in all, I would say that this is my favourite orange khoresh, if not one of my very favourite things to eat. If it takes a little time to make, I'm not going to complain. It is a joy to make something so very good to eat.

Lamb and orange khoresh

Serves 6

3 oranges
40 g unsalted butter
2 tsp caster sugar
olive oil
675 g lamb from the leg, cut into 3-4 cm cubes
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
275 ml orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
275 ml lamb stock or water
salt and pepper
3 carrots
good handful of mint leaves, torn
2 tsp orange flower water
25 g shelled pistachios, roughly chopped, to garnish

1 Remove peel from the oranges with a vegetable peeler, taking care to leave the pith behind, and cut into fine strips about the size of a match. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, cook for 2 min, then strain. Heat half the butter in a a small pan and add the orange rind. Stir, then add the sugar and cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, until the sugar has melted and the rind has lightly caramelized. Set aside.

2 Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pressure cooker. Fry the lamb cubes over fairly high heat, so that they get a good browning on the outside. You should do this in batches to ensure that they get properly coloured. Remove and set the lamb aside.

3 Add another 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pressure cooker with the rest of the butter. Heat this and saute the onion until soft and translucent. Sprinkle on the cinnamon and cardamom and cook for another minute. Add the juices, stock and water, and the lamb, with any juices that have run out of it. Season, seal the pressure cooker and and bring up to pressure. Turn down the heat and cook at low pressure for 40 min.

4 Peel the carrots and cut them into batons about 6 cm long. Using a very sharp knife, remove the white pith from the oranges then, cutting close to the membrane, remove each segment. Add the carrots and caramelized orange peel (reserving a little for garnishing) to the lamb once it has been cooking 40 min. Simmer, uncovered, for a further 20 min, adding the orange segments in the last 10 min. Gently stir in half of the mint in the last couple of minutes.

5 Stir the orange flower water, if using, into the khoresh and turn it into a heated bowl, scattered with the remaining mint and orange peel and the pistachios. Serve with plain white rice.


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