A few weeks ago, C invited a number of her friends over for a casual Sunday lunch. It had been a while since she'd seen this group of people, so she and A really pushed the boat out and made something truly scrumptious. We wanted to do a Sunday roast with a bit of a twist, and, as we're both huge fans of Middle Eastern food, we looked to the dishes of that part of the world for inspiration (some would say we're nothing if not predictable...). Once again, the region didn't let us down, and we managed to present a slow-cooked joint of lamb, roasted in pomegranate and cumin marinade, as the centrepiece of the meal. Mmm.
Unusually for us, this recipe doesn't come from our old favourite Pomegranates and Roses - A's Persian cookbook and our go-to resource for Middle Eastern recipes. Instead, C actually scoped out this dish from the BBC website; while A was initially skeptical (he's not a huge fan), even he had to admit that this recipe is a real winner.
Essentially the dish is a roast lamb shoulder, done more or less in the old traditional English fashion, but with a fancy marinade to boot. The tricky ingredient to find is the pomegranate molasses, but with a little perseverance you can find it around. After having a middle-class breakdown when he realised that Waitrose failed to stock the stuff, A could breathe easy once again when he discovered it in the artisanal foods section of a local Sainsbury's, tucked next to the preserved lemons and the dried porcini mushrooms (darling).
The results were excellent: because the lamb is slow roasted, and sealed in silver foil with a bit of water, the meat came out beautifully moist and flaking off the bone. Both tart and warming due to the combination of the pomegranate molasses and the cumin, the flavours were intense but not overpowering, and the lamb was succulent. The juices with the onion left at the end can then be reduced and thickened with flour or corn flour to make a luxurious and slightly sharp gravy to serve over the meat and any accompaniments.
|That's good meat for ewe...|
A shoulder of lamb will more than do for eight, and we found that with our extra mini-joint both of us had food parcels to keep us going for a couple of days. Ralph, C's cat, was also very pleased as he got many a tasty morsel in his food bowl as well. The cat, as it turned out, actually did very well for himself; C stored some leftovers in the fridge for herself for dinner the next day, which mistakenly got fed to the cat in a bit of a mix-up. It's safe to say that he didn't mind, though...
We served our lamb with a basic saffron rice dish (essentially fried rice cooked in saffron-infused water) and an Iranian mint salad, which did in fact predictably come from Pomegranates and Roses and is one of our favourite dishes to serve up at short notice at home.
This doesn't break the bank, either; using lamb shoulder from Sainsbury's, the dish cost less than £3.50 a head, which we felt was excellent value for a roast.
Normally we provide a recipe on the blog, but as this one is already neatly typed up for us on BBC Food, here's the link instead.