Harira (lamb, chickpeas and spinach soup)

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Made this the other day for supper and it is absolutley incredible! I got the recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi. He says in the intro ‘This is a variation on the traditional Moroccan harira soup, flavoured in the same way but without the extra carbs that are often added in the form of rice or pasta. Traditionally a meal for breaking the Ramadan fast, this hearty dish is perfect on a cold winter’s evening.’

I cannot tell you how flavoursome this dish is. It is best made the day before in my opinion – the flavours just develop even more incredibly. Please make this as soon as you can. Please!

INGREDIENTS – 

3 tbsp olive oil   500g cooked chickpeas
1 large onion, cut into 1cm dice
200g lamb neck fillet, cut into 1cm dice
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp caster sugar
1kg tinned chopped tomatoes
1.2 litres chicken stock or water
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
a pinch of saffron strands
100g baby spinach
4 tbsp roughly chopped coriander
salt and black pepper

 METHOD

Add olive oil to a large pan on a medium heat. Add the onion and fry til soft and clear. Increase the heat – add the lamb. Cook for 2-3 minutes until it is sealed and taken on some colour. 

Add the tomato purée and sugar and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, drained chickpeas, stock and some salt and pepper.

Bring the soup to the boil. Reduce heat  and simmer. Cook for 35 – 50 minutes til lamb is tender.

Squeeze the lemon juice into the soup. Season with ground cumin, ginger and saffron. 

Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if you wish.

When ready to serve, bring back to the boil. Wash and cut roughly the spinach and coriander and add to the soup just before you bring it to the table. Serve with lots of good bread! 

A little Moroccan Magic makes Sunday sublime….

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A little Moroccan Magic makes Sunday sublime....

I saw this idea on a Jamie Oliver programme a while ago now – but I cannot remember which one! Anyway, this is my version using fabulously underrated shin beef – mine was from those lovely people at Parsonage Farm. I love the tactile nature of rubbing the beef in the early stages and the way this cut just melts in the mouth after serious slow cooking. We went to the pub whilst it was simmering! It suited our Sunday and slipped down a treat – highly recommended and great social food. I cooked it in a Dutch oven casserole pan – I know some folk cook it in a tagine – but I have never dabbled in those – yet. Anyway – this works and I have just finished the leftover warmed up inside a pitta for lunch today!

Ingredients for 4/5

750 gm shin beef, fat trimmed off and cut into serious cubes
2 small onions chopped
Bunch of fresh coriander
Half a butternut squash peeled and cubed
400 gm tin chickpeas
400 gm tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp of tomato sauce
600 ml of chicken or vegetable stock
Olive oil

Spice mix
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground cumin – I crushed cumin seeds in a mortar
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp paprika
Salt and black pepper

Mix all spice ingredients together and add to cubed beef in a bowl – with your hands run in to the beef until all the mix has been taken in. You can do this in advance if you wish.

Add a glug of olive oil to the pan – deep sided preferably – and gently pan fry the beef for about 5 minutes. Add the onion and half the coriander chopped. Fry for a further 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and the tomatoes and then all apart form 100 gm of the stock – you are just keeping some back for later in case it starts to dry out a tad – but it shouldn’t.

Bring to the boil – stir well – reduce heat – pop some foil over then the lid and simmer for 2 hours on a low heat.

Then add the butternut squash cubes – a little more stock if needed. Put foil and lid back on.

Cook for another 1 and a half hours. Consistency should now be quite thick and the meat should be falling apart to the touch. Serve with cous cous and scatter on the remainder of the coriander.

This is a very satisfying autumnal dish – cheap too – and a great alternative to Sunday roasts!