The spice road
‘The next Fanny Cradock’s’ globally inspired food
Serves 6 Tart rhubarb is as good in savoury dishes as it is in sweet ones. Its sharp flavour brings an almost citrusy vibrancy to this dish, helping to cut through the rich fattiness of lamb.
For the lamb
— the seeds of 3 cardamom
pods — ½ tsp cloves — 1 tsp coriander seeds — 1 tsp fennel seeds — 1 star anise — ½ tsp sweet paprika — ½ tsp turmeric — 1 tsp ground cinnamon — 1 tsp ground cumin — good grating of fresh
nutmeg — generous pinch of saffron — 1 tbsp dried rose petals — 5 fat garlic cloves,
crushed — the zest and juice of
1 lemon — 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil — 1.8kg lamb shoulder
For the spiced-rhubarb and feta moghrabieh
— 4 rhubarb stems, trimmed
and cut into 5cm lengths — 2 tsp honey — 1 tsp cinnamon — 200g moghrabieh
(giant couscous) — 2 tbsp slivered almonds — 2 tbsp crushed walnuts — 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts — 15g barberries, soaked in
a little warm water — 1 red onion, finely sliced — handful of chopped
flat-leaf parsley — 60ml extra-virgin olive oil — the juice of 1 lemon — 100g feta, crumbled Preheat the oven to 220C/ gas mark 7.
Heat a pan and dry-roast the whole spices until they release their oils and aroma. Work fast to make sure that you don’t burn them.
Transfer to a mortar, add all the ground spices, the nutmeg, the saffron and the rose petals, and bash with the pestle until you have a coarse powder. Stir in the garlic, the lemon zest and juice, a pinch of sea salt and the olive oil to make a lavish paste.
Make incisions in the lamb at regular intervals with a small sharp knife, and rub the spice paste all over the meat. Place in a roasting dish and pour 250ml water into the dish. Roast for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 120C/lowest gas mark, cover the dish with foil and cook, basting occasionally, for seven hours, until very tender. Remove the foil and cook for a further hour to crisp the skin.
Remove from the oven, cover with foil and leave in a warm place.
For the moghrabieh, set the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Line a tray with baking paper and lay out the rhubarb on it. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle over the cinnamon. Roast for 12-15 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, cook the moghrabieh in boiling water for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and allow to cool.
Mix the moghrabieh with the rhubarb, nuts, drained barberries, onion and parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and season well. Crumble over the feta, and serve alongside the roast lamb.