Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Griddled lamb cutlets with chickpea and sweet potato pilau

Griddled lamb cutlets with chickpea and sweet potato pilau

We're getting to the end of the kids Summer holidays and stocks are getting pretty low. I've been delaying a big food shop in favour of much more interesting activities like long runs, bike rides with the kids or trips to buy new school shoes (?!) and so last night was most definitely a "scratch" meal....but sometimes they are the best. Within 10 minutes, a most delicious aroma had filled the house and supper was ready - not only a tasty and speedy meal, but a perfect low G.I., high carbohydrate dish for my preparation for the Bristol Half Marathon on Sunday.

I had some fresh chicken stock and so decided on a risotto to accompany some lamb cutlets which had reached their best before date - it was only when I started to saute an onion as the first stage of the risotto that I discovered I had run out of risotto rice. When you're running sometimes you have to be flexible and change your goals when things don't go to plan - this can happen in just the same way with cooking and a quick change of plan was needed - it had to be a pilau with basmati rice. I threw in a sweet potato, some chopped celery, a spoon of madras paste, some crushed cardamom seeds and a tin of chickpeas. I added the rice to this mixture, mixed it all up and then covered it with the hot stock. Ten minutes later the pilau was ready - finished off with some finely chopped green chilli and a big handful of fresh coriander, a healthy, energy-giving and tasty meal for five had been prepared in a blip....and subsequently demolished in about the same amount of time!

Ingredients - serves 5

  • 10 lamb cutlets ( I seasoned mine with herbes de provence and a little moroccan spice mix)
  • 350-375 g good quality basmati rice (about two big handfuls per person)
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1 scant tablespoon madras paste (I use Pataks)
  • the seeds of 3-4 cardamom pods, crushed in a pestle and mortar
  • 400g tin chickpeas
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • chicken stock
  • large handful of fresh coriander, chopped roughly
  • 1 large green chilli, finely sliced into rings
  • yoghurt sauce - mix a pinch of salt, pinch of sugar, pinch of chilli powder, pinch of coriander or ras-el-hanout spice mix into about 5 tablespoons natural yoghurt
  1. Prepare the lamb cutlets - coat them in whatever herbs and spices you have decided to use and heat up the griddle.
  2. Gently saute the onion and celery in the oil and then add the sweet potato after a couple of minutes. I use a large, deep frying pan with a lid - this sort of thing is perfect for a pilau. Add the madras paste, the cardamom seeds and the chickpeas and then stir it all around for a minute or so.
  3. Add the rice and stir so that all the ingredients are well mixed up.
  4. Add enough hot stock to cover the rice by about 1/2 cm. When the stock comes to the boil again, turn down the heat to very gently and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Basmati rice cooks really quickly so check to see if the rice is cooked after about 8 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile griddle the lamb cutlets. A good trick is to leave them on the griddle without turning until the fat goes really crisp, then turn them and finish them off on the other side.
  6. When the pilau is cooked, add the fresh coriander and the slices of chilli and serve with the cutlets and the yoghurt sauce.
  7. I found half a bag of watercress in the fridge which I livened up with a mustardy dressing - this went really well with the lamb and pilau.

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