Spiced Lamb and Aubergine Pilaf
If you have taken my advice from the introduction and have a reasonably stocked spice cupboard (cumin, cinnamon, chilli, coriander), you can make this dish with hardly any fuss and on a very modest budget. Aubergines are like little sponges and will soak up whatever flavours you throw at them. They are great to pair with lamb because they soak up all the lovely fat, leaving you with loads of flavour but none of the grease. I make this dish on a weeknight as a quick and easy supper, or to roll into wraps at the peak of a successful party, when everyone is feeling a little light-headed from one too many drinks and needs a little pick me up – it works every time.
Preparation time 5 minutes
Cooking time 1 1/2 hours
Serves 6 as a main meal or 8 for wraps or a light lunch
2–3 medium aubergines, cut into 2cm pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
500g lamb mince
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric (if you have a Moroccan or Turkish spice blend, please feel free to use that – 4 teaspoons should do it)
75g sultanas (chopped dried apricots or dates also work really well)
200g chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
250g white rice (I like basmati but any will do)
600ml lamb or chicken stock
75g toasted pine nuts, flaked almonds (optional)
10–15 fresh mint leaves, shredded (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas 4. Place the prepared aubergine onto a baking tray (you may need two), drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, turning once halfway through. Ensure the aubergine pieces on the outsides of the tray don’t burn.
- While the aubergine is cooking, place a large casserole dish on the stove and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic, season and cook for around 10 minutes on a low heat until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Now add the lamb, increase the heat and seal for 5 minutes. You want the lamb mince to have a little colour. Now add the spices, the cooked aubergine, the sultanas and the chopped tomatoes and stir well. Cook for 8–10 minutes to allow the spices to properly cook out. Season again.
- Now add the rice. Coat it well in all the spices and pan juices before adding the stock. Put on the lid and bring to the boil, then transfer the casserole dish to the oven and cook for 35–40 minutes. Check it once whilst cooking – if it looks like it needs a little more stock, now is a good time to add it.
- You may want to add some toasted nuts and freshly shredded mint before taking the dish to the table. I love to have this with griddled flatbreads and some Greek yoghurt.
As featured in “Cook on a shoestring: Easy, inspiring recipes on a budget”