Lamb Meatballs with Cranberries, Yogurt & Herbs
A little bit late to the Eid party, which was celebrated last Friday, but I never really need an excuse to eat delicious Arabic food. We spent 5 years in Kuwait and I didn’t really appreciate the delicious food on offer everywhere until many years later. I think at age 21, when I was there, the lack / complete absence of alcohol was more pressing than reviewing the food. But I do remember with great fondness the excitement of Eid after Ramadan, the month of fasting that to my eyes was a holy month of great prayer and sacrifice but it also had an exciting festival type feeling throughout the month, with school not starting until 9 (usually started at 8) and often finished at 12. Ramadan meant long afternoon naps followed by the fast breaking Iftar as soon as the sun went down, with men (usually) sitting in restaurants along the seafront waiting for the Iftar call to prayer. But none of these meals held a candle to the Eid festivities which we were very lucky to be invited to share with familys throughout the 5 years we lived there. Food was prepared over many days in the lead up to Eid, special sweets & pastries were ordered, friends and familys traveled and gathered together to celebrate with good food. So in memory of those meals shared with Lebanese, Egyptian, Kuwaiti and Palestinian families, this weekend we prepared our own version of an Eid meal.
Where else to look but one of my all time favourites, spoken about before in this blog, Jerusalem. I decided on the Lamb Meatballs sweetened with figs, the Turkey & Zucchini / corgette Burgers with sour cream (will post about separately), Yogurt and Sumaq dressing and good old reliable cous cous.
Note on LONG ingredient list: The ingredient lists for the recipes from “Jerusalem” look long but it really is a case of food that is the sum of its parts – don’t skip an ingredient if possible, its the layers and depths of flavours that all these spices and flavours add that make the food so delicious.
Note on Barberries: These are available from specialist shops – I spotted them here in the wonderful Avoca and should have bought them, but didn’t, so I had to use the dried cranberries instead. The Barberries aren’t as sweet & would be perfect but cranberries make a good enough substitute.
- Place the lamb, onions, parsley, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, barberries or cranberries, egg, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp black pepper in a large bowl.
- Mix with your hands and roll into balls, about the size of golf balls.
- Heat 1/3 of the oil in a large, heavy-based pot for which you have a tight-fitting lid. Put in a few meatballs at a time, cooking them over a medium heat and turning them around for a few minutes until they colour all over. Remove from the pot and set aside while you cook the remaining meatballs.
- Wipe the pot clean and add the remaining oil. Add the shallots and cook them on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown.
- Add the wine, leave to bubble for a minute or two, then add the chicken stock, bay leaves, thyme, sugar (not needed if using cranberries in my opinion) and some salt and pepper.
- Arrange the figs and meatballs amongst and on top of the shallots; the meatballs need to be almost covered in liquid. Bring to the boil, cover with the lid, reduce the heat to very low and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove the lid and simmer for about another hour, until the sauce has reduced and intensified in flavour. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
- Transfer to a large, deep serving dish. Whisk the yogurt, pour on top and scatter with herbs.
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