Category Archives: Middle Eastern Flavours

Warming Lamb and Cous cous

Yesterday we went to the World Famous Bury Market (of which, more in a later post) and picked up some meat and veg to use before we move next week as I’ve almost completely depleted the freezer now. The next stage is pulling out the last ingredients from the cupboard to use up (tins of beans, jelly in abundance, dregs of dried things etc). I’m trying to get to the Mother Hubbard stage. Those of you who read ‘delicious’ magazine might be ahead of me on this one, as I was making use of the Ainsley Harriot spicy cous cous that came as a free gift with the latest issue.

Lamb was suggested (ahem – demanded) by TLM. He is definitely of the he-likes-what-he-likes variety and so this often means “I really liked what we had last time, I want that again.” Which wouldn’t be such an issue if I didn’t have an ulterior motive (and none of the right ingredients). So this recipe ended up being a bit of a conflation of my sweet lamb casserole and flavours to try and compliment the spicy cous cous. With negotiation and some stealthily applied herbs, this was a hit. So next time I can go the whole hog for how I want the flavours to be.


  • 400 g lamb (this was rather a lot…)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 1 carrot (there’s no escaping)
  • 1 lamb stock cube, made up with half a pint of water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried mint
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ras el hanout
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground almond

For the next time, I will either add some rose harissa or some dried chilli. Perhaps also some cinnamon? I might also season the lamb in some flour, salt, pepper and ras el hanout rather than just browning it as is. The almond helped to thicken up the sauce. I’m not quite sure why I put it in… but more experiments in future will need to be held.

How to Make it

I fried down the onions a little, then put them aside on a plate before browning the lamb in batches. Chucked it back in the pan, adding the carrots, and poured the tomatoes and stock on top. I added the herbs/seasoning/honey and then left it to simmer on the lowest setting on the stove for about an hour and a half. Towards the end of cooking time, check the seasoning and that it’s suitably thickened.

We had this with the spicy cous cous and a long sweet pepper that had been halved and then grilled for about 10 minutes. I generally approve of cous cous because, and I’ll level with you here, I never really cook rice properly. Despite trying to learn during the two months we ate nothing but rice, I was always terrible at it! The cous cous here was definitely warming and TLM liked it. It had an overall flavour but it just seemed so processed. I like to see my chunks of onion and garlic – not have the flavour come in powdered form. The inclusion of sunflower seeds was clever though. So next time I will bump up the spices in the lamb, and use spices, onion, garlic and toasted sunflower/pumpkin seeds in my own version of the cous cous.

Pear Kulfi

Each month, held alternately by Julia and Scott, there is an ‘in the bag’ challenge where three ingredients are suggested and you come up with a recipe including them. Initially I didn’t have the confidence, but after a little thought and settling on what I could do, I was really quite excited. January 2007’s ingredients were: pears, lemons and nuts of your choice. I sort-of imposed another requirement on myself: I wanted to offer it as the pudding for a coeliac friend who was cooking dinner, so it had to be gluten-free.

I wanted to do something sweet but the nuts really threw me off. I found some interesting pear/chestnut icecream recipes but they all required an icecream maker. Consulting my musty but trusty Marguerite Pattern book I found a recipe for kulfi, a rich almond icecream of Indian origin, which could be made wholly in the freezer. This recipe instantly gave me a good way to use nuts, and I could transform it by adding pear puree and the juice of a whole lemon. So I present my pear kulfi concoction, with slight pride that it throws up no other google results.

It is a little bit fiddly, but only in that it uses up a lot of bowls and so generates a bit of washing up. I strongly suggest rehearsing this recipe in your head to make sure you have all the pans to hand.
  • 600 ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 50 g ground almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond essence
  • 300 ml double cream
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 pears
How to make it


First, you make an almondy custard. Put the eggs, egg yolks and caster sugar in a heatproof bowl and whisk together until evenly blended. Put the milk in a pan and bring to the boil. Add the scalded milk slowly to the egg mix, stirring throughout. Stand the bowl over a pot of boiling water and stir until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Once cooled, stir in the ground almonds and almond essence.


Secondly for the pear and lemon puree. Peel, core and chop the pears. Dice into 1 cm squares or so and cook them until soft in a pan with a dash of water. Drain, then puree the pears. Squeeze the juice of one lemon into the pan and stir.


Whip the cream to soft peaks, then incorporate the pear puree. Finally fold the cream/puree mix into the cool custard. Pour into a container (make it a 2 litre tub) and pop in the freezer to do its thing.


Take the icecream out about half an hour prior to serving, so it’s easier to scoop. Add some lemon zest and flaked almonds or pistachios to garnish.
Overall, the pear kulfi was absolutely delicious. The fruity/zestiness of the pear and lemon cut through the otherwise rich almond custard cream. The kulfi is smooth and the crystals turned out fairly small, but as always they could be smaller.