I love how food can connect us to far off places and people.
I was born in Australia but when I was in my early twenties I went to work in London. I loved exploring my new city, and trying all kinds of new foods.
However, when I was inevitably homesick I’d cook my parent’s recipes – the food I ate when growing up in Australia. It was as if I wanted to swallow my best memories of home along with the food I had so lovingly prepared.
Now that I’m back living in Australia I suffer the reverse syndrome — I call it ‘travel sickness’ — the feeling you get when you miss being overseas.
To combat this, I cook dishes to remind me of the country I miss.
I recently visited Dubai on a media trip and came home with a bag full of goodies from the spice souk (market). I did wonder if I’d have them confiscated at customs but to my relief I was waved through without so much as a glance.
So the other day, when I was going through my Dubai photos and wishing I was back in the desert, I decided to cook this dish.
I can’t say that I ate this dish in Dubai. Most of the meat dishes we enjoyed consisted of marinated and barbequed meat, not stews. But the spices in this dish bought at the Spice Souk — the cinnamon, cardamom and cumin — remind me so much of the lovely food I ate there.
This dish is wonderful served with couscous and a green salad. Or you could even try serving it with lettuce in a pita (Lebanese bread) wrap.
- 350 grams lamb (leg or shoulder), cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 5 tomatoes, cut into quarters
- 80 grams raw almonds, whole or chopped roughly
- 100 grams sultanas
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Cut lamb into small pieces about 2cm square and place into a bowl.
- Add all spices and 1 tablespoon oil and mix thoroughly.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour to marinate.
- Heat up a large, non-stick fry pan until smoking and then add one tablespoon oil.
- Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat, for a minute, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn.
- Add lamb and brown on all sides. If the garlic starts to brown too much, add a tablespoon or two of the stock.
- Add rest of stock, tomatoes, almonds, and sultanas, plus the cinnamon stick. Mix thoroughly and bring to boil.
- Turn heat down to low and add lid, simmering for 20-30 minutes until meat is tender. Stir occasionally.
- Serve with couscous and a green salad for a simple but delicious meal.