PERSIAN LAMB & VEGETABLE STEW (serves 3-4)
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used rapeseed)
500g diced lamb
1 large onion, diced
pinch of sea salt
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
half a tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp tomato puree
20g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
10g fresh dill, roughly chopped
10g fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
1 litre of lamb stock, made using two stock cubes
1 whole red chilli, pierced all over
4 dried limes, pierced all over
1 large waxy potato, peeled and diced very small
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
4-5 mushrooms, quartered
3 vine ripened tomatoes, pips removed and chopped
15g barberries or alternatively currants soaked in lemon juice
a large handful of baby spinach leaves.
Pre-heat your oven to 140degC/275degF/Gas 1.
Heat the vegetable oil (I used rapeseed) over a high heat in a large frying pan until almost smoky hot. Add the lamb (gently!) and sear on at least two sides. Using a slotted spoon remove the lamb to a lidded casserole dish.
Reduce the heat under the frying pan to moderate and add the onion, sea salt, garlic, turmeric and cumin seeds. Fry until the onion is transparent and just beginning to caramelise but stir often to prevent the turmeric from burning on the bottom of the pan.
Add the tomato puree and stir through. Cook on for another 3-4 minutes, until the ingredients are well combined.
Gently stir in the lamb stock and add the three fresh herbs.
Decant the mixture into the casserole dish, give everything a stir, whisper some words of encouragement and put the lid on. Place the casserole dish into the oven and forget about it for the next hour and a half.
Remove the casserole dish from the oven and remove the lid. Give the contents a stir and have a taste of the cooking liquid, to check for seasoning and to admire how it tastes at this early stage - seriously lovely.
Add the red chilli, the dried limes (which will insist on bobbing around on the surface, because they're so light), potato, butternut squash and mushrooms and stir through.
Replace the lid and put the casserole dish back into the oven for another hour.
At the end of that hour, retrieve the casserole dish and remove the lid. Stir in the tomatoes and barberries or currants. Replace, uncovered, in the oven for the remaining half an hour. (The sauce is fairly thin and of a broth-like consistency, but amazingly flavoured. If you prefer your sauce thicker, simply stir in a little cornflour mixed with water at this stage, which will thicken the sauce).
Ultimately, once you have finally removed the casserole dish from the oven (and cooked some white rice to go with it), stir in a big handful of baby spinach leaves and serve along with the cooked white rice and a healthy big dollop of plain yoghurt.
Tuck in, and enjoy!