Hummus Topped with Lamb, Pine Nuts and Pomegranate Molasses

Hummus with Minced Lamb-0757Hummus is filling, deliciously tasty and so easy to make at home. Perfect for eating as a snack with some warm home-baked flatbread, used as a spread for sandwiches or served with grills, barbecued meats or chicken. We all love hummus in our family and we sometimes love to top hummus with minced lamb cooked with sweet spices and pine nuts, then garnish the dish with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and olive oil, this is one of our favourite mezze dishes when dining at a Lebanese restaurant.

With the help of a food processor/blender it only takes a couple of minutes to make up a bowlful of hummus… it’s the soaking and cooking of dried chickpeas that takes time. Canned chickpeas are a handy store cupboard ingredient when you don’t have the time to use dried chickpeas or can’t be bothered. Continue reading “Hummus Topped with Lamb, Pine Nuts and Pomegranate Molasses”

food + drink · mains · posts

lamb and vegetable stew with arabic flatbread – thareed

Stewing is an age-old method of cooking and history suggests that these types of dishes have been around since the advent of clay pottery. From gumbo to Irish stew many cultures from around the globe have some type of stew recorded in their culinary repertoire. Coming from an Irish upbringing stews play close to my taste buds heart as Irish Stew (also lamb and vegetables) is a national favourite!

Thareed is a stew consisting of lamb and vegetables that have been slowly simmered in a spiced tomato based broth. Once cooked, torn pieces of thin flatbread (khoubz) are added, soaking into the flavorsome broth, making the dish a complete meal in itself! Thareed is a popular dish eaten during Ramadan and served for Iftar, the first meal eaten after fasting.

Dried black lime (loomi aswad) added to the simmering broth of thareed imparts a delicious sweet-tangy flavour which is quite unique! Piercing with a knife beforehand allows the broth to permeate the dried lime, releasing its wonderful flavour, that I believe cannot be substituted in the same way using fresh lime or lemon zest!

These small limes are boiled for a short time in salted water and left to dry out in the sun or in a dehydrator, turning them tan or black in colour depending on the length of time spent drying. Throughout the middle east dried limes are used as a souring agent in cooking and are also ground and used in spice mixes and marinades! Sometimes these dried limes are called whole black lemons or lemon powder… somehow the name may have got lost in the translation… but dried limes they are!

Long and slowly simmered stews deserve the best cooking pots  and my preference is a heavy gauge pot with a tight-fitting lid (also called a Dutch oven), which can be used either on the stove top or in an oven. The food can also be served straight from the pot itself, making washing-up a breeze!

Slow simmering stews with wafting aromas are usually associated with cold blustery winter days, however living in Bahrain with a 45 celsius summer heat  leaves me with the only suggestion… turn your air-conditioning to full blast and tuck in!



  • 1kg lamb shoulder chops
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Baharat (Arabic spices, see note below)  or your favourite mixed spices
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, lightly crushed
  • 4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 4  heaped tablespoons of tomato purée
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 small whole dried limes, pierced with a knife
  • 2 inch piece of cassia bark or cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole green chilli
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 baby courgettes, cut into chunks
  • 1 or 2 piece (approximately) of thin flatbread (khoubz)

 How to make: With a sharp knife, remove the meat from the bone, trim excess fat and cut into cubes, do not discard the bones as they will be used for flavour.

In a flame-proof casserole dish or heavy based saucepan placed over high heat, heat the oil until hot. Add the lamb and bones in batches and brown on all sides, transfer each batch to a plate when browned. Set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, cook until soft and golden. While cooking the onion you may notice the bottom of the pan getting brown, adding a little water will help loosen the brown bits from the bottom while stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for about 30 seconds stirring continuously, next add in the mixed spices and coriander seeds, cook for a further 30 seconds. Add in the tomatoes, tomato purée, fresh coriander, lamb and bones, stir all together.

Pour in the water, add the dried lime, cassia bark or cinnamon stick,  green chilli and salt.  Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer very gently for 1 hour.

Add the potatoes and carrots into the stew cover and continue to gently simmer for another 40 minutes. Add the courgettes, cover and simmer for another 15 minutes or until tender.

Once the stew is finished cooking and meat and vegetables are tender, taste  and add more salt if necessary. Tear the bread into 3 or 4 inch pieces and gently mix into the dish, the bread will soak into the broth, no dry bits of bread should be visible. Serve straight from the cooking pot or place into a large serving bowl. Serves 4 to 5 people.

Baharat is the Arabic word for spice mix which may consist of a mix of ground black pepper, cinnamon sticks or cassia bark, cumin, coriander, cloves, cardamom, chilies, turmeric and nutmeg in various quantities. The souks in Bahrain have a wonderful variety of whole and ground spices.

What is your favourite stew?

food + drink · posts

barbecued lamb cutlets and vegetable skewers

Tidying my book shelves the other day I came across the “Home Cooking Calendar” that Karen and I had compiled for charity a couple of years ago. I was just new to photography then and had bought my first D-SLR Camera. Having no experience whatsoever on the photography end, Karen took care of the photo shoot while I ran around doing the cooking and styling… it was a fun project and a great learning curve.

The longer you marinate the lamb the more succulent the meat will be. Soaking the wooden skewers will help protect them from the heat of the barbecue so they will not burn so quickly!

As the very hot weather leaves us and the evenings become much cooler, this is a time when the barbecue gets plenty of use for some casual outdoor dining. I thought I would post this tasty and easy recipe (month of October) from the “Home Cooking Calendar” and make use of some of my home-made yogurt!

Barbecued Lamb Cutlets and Vegetable Skewers


  • 4 heaped tablespoons of  plain home-made yogurt or store-bought
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint
  • juice half a lemon
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 8 french-trimmed lamb cutlets
  • 8 wooden skewers (soaked for 30 minutes in water)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
  • 2 fresh sprigs of rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 8 button mushrooms
  • 1 large aubergine, cut into chunks
  • 4 small red onions, peeled and halved
  • 4 small courgettes, cut into chunks
  • 1 large red pepper, cut into chunks and seeds removed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to makeMix together in a large bowl, yogurt, sumac, mint, lemon juice and garlic. Add the lamb cutlets, mix to coat with the yogurt marinade. Cover bowl, place in the fridge to marinate for 6 hours or overnight.

Whisk together in a small bowl the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add the garlic and rosemary, set aside for about 20 minutes for the flavours to mingle.

Meanwhile, thread the mushroom, aubergine, onion, courgette and red pepper, alternately onto the skewers. Brush each vegetable skewer liberally with the flavoured olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper.

Heat the barbecue to medium, cook each lamb cutlet 3 to four minutes on each side or until cooked to your liking. Cook the vegetable for about 8 minutes or until slightly charred and tender.