Recipe: Faux-roccan Lamb & Chickpea Stew

A rock-hard tube of frozen ground lamb: not a common (or overly appealing) ingredient in my house; previously I’d only used it successfully in homemade ravioli. But a decent working knowledge of foreign cuisine is only a few Google searches away, and that’s exactly how this recipe came together: flipping through about a dozen different recipes for lamb stews and then cobbling together my own interpretation, based equally on gut instinct and what was in the fridge.

The cinnamon and raisins add a Moroccan element, verified not by personal experience in Morocco (sadly), but rather by Googling “Moroccan ingredients.” The pumpkin seeds are a curve ball but they add an interesting textural edge and are much cheaper/easier-to-find than pine nuts, which I noticed in a couple lamb-based recipes. (Pumpkin seeds also don’t carry the risk of making you taste bitter metal for two weeks – which is fucking insane, by the way, and how did I not know this earlier and also I’m never eating pine nuts again.) A small amount of coconut milk contributes a lovely silky texture, not enough to predominate but just enough to temper the zingy ginger and acidic tomato. Fresh herbs are stirred in at the end for a final vibrant note; don’t skip them. You can go either way with the green onions: it’s just as good with or without them.

I think this could be readily adapted into a vegetarian/vegan recipe and I intend to test this out quite soon: instead of the lamb, add an extra can of chickpeas or cup of cooked lentils, and/or a package of soysage.

Faux-roccan Lamb & Chickpea Stew

Ingredients
1 package ground lamb (500g)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1-2 Thai red chilis, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece ginger, about 1-inch square, minced
2 cans diced tomatoes (796mL each)
2 cans chickpeas (540mL each)
1 can tomato paste (156mL)
1/3 cup raisins (one big handful)
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds or pine nuts (one big handful)
1 bouillon cube (veggie flavour)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 heaping tbsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 can coconut milk (165mL)
½ bunch cilantro (2 handfuls whole leaves)
½ bunch parsley (2 handfuls whole leaves)
Green onions, sliced (optional)

Method
Sauté lamb and onion until lamb is cooked through. Transfer the mixture to a bowl lined with paper towel to drain off most of the grease (unless the lamb is quite lean, which makes this step unnecessary).

Return the lamb to the pot and add the peppers and chili. Sauté another five minutes until peppers are slightly softened. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for one minute until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, tomato paste, raisins and pumpkin seeds. Turn heat to medium-high and bring the pot to a boil (cover with lid to speed this up). Turn heat down to medium-low, crumble in the bouillon cube and stir in the spices.

Simmer for about 20 minutes, then stir in the coconut milk and cook another 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in the herbs. Garnish with green onions and serve with toasted multigrain bread.

 

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