Well, I say my first foray - but to be correct, let's call it the first foray since owning the book, as initially I borrowed it from the library and loved it so much, I had to include it on my Christmas list.
Meals during that no-man's land of time between Christmas and New Year tend towards being simple and - in our house, certainly - easy to prepare. After all, having done the long haul of Christmas Dinner and with another long haul - New Year's dinner - ahead of you, you're not in the mood for ostentatious display.
As such, as soon as I clapped eyes upon the "Lamb rice with golden onions", it clicked. Although I didn't have any leftover roast lamb to use, I figured that a pack of minced lamb would do the trick, plus it had the added benefit of being a one-pot wonder - which always go down well.
However, it also intrigued me (intrigue features so often with my choice of recipe!) with its use of allspice, sultanas, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes. I loved all the ingredients, I felt hubby would be happy with the spiced element, but I had reservations as to how the cherry tomatoes would go down with son & heir.
As it turned out, the inclusion of cherry tomatoes was completely forgotten over the enticement of minced lamb. As he put it himself "it's got minced lamb in it - everything else is forgiven". Right, I'll have to remember that!
Hubby and I both found that the spicing was a bit too subtle and the quantities could do with increasing a little - which I have reflected in the recipe below.
I also found that serving the rice with a chutney alongside the yoghurt provided a nice counterpoint to the flatter, more subtle flavours of the dish. The chutney we used was a Roasted Garlic & Apple one which went really extremely well.
I enjoyed this dish very much and together with son & heir, we took care of what little there was left, so very definitely child-friendly!
LAMB RICE WITH GOLDEN ONIONS (serves 3)
500g minced lamb
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp sultanas
half a tsp of ground allspice
half a tsp of ground coriander
one and a half tsp of ground cumin
around 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 garlic clove, chopped
enough cooked basmati rice for 3 persons
sea salt & black pepper
To serve : chopped mint and/or parsley leaves, 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts, 6 tbsp greek yoghurt.
1. Begin by toasting the pine nuts in a dry frying pan, then once cool, chop them (if you prefer them that way).
2. Next, dry fry the lamb mince, until just beginning to caramelise and all the water content has evaporated. Drain off the fat. Reserve the meat to keep warm.
3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Cook for around 5 minutes over a medium heat until it turns pale gold and smells fragrant.
4. Add the sultanas and spices and cook for 1 minute more, then add the tomatoes.
5. Cook gently for another 5-7 minutes, until they begin to take on a little colour.
6. Add the lamb and garlic and stir-fry for a minute or so, then stir in the rice.
7. Cook, stirring from time to time until well heated through – which is very important with leftover rice.
8. Season to taste and scatter the chopped leaves & pine nuts over.
9. Serve with the yoghurt by the side & with a fruity chutney.