When my youngest was a lot younger, she would rarely be direct about anything. If she wanted something out of the ordinary like some new clothes, or something ‘girly’ of which I probably would not approve, she would do something daft like write out a request (along with a smiley face) and slip it under the sitting room door. While she was a little thing and cute, those notes always got the desired result. As she has aged and the ravages of time have started to take their toll (she is 20 now), she trys more subtle methods of influencing me.
A recent wheeze has been to hide in the room and say things to me in a ghostly voice. The latest incarnation of this was “Conor, this is your conscience speaking, cook Lamb Koftas on Sunday. Cooooook Lamb Koftaaaassss on Sundaaaaaayyy.” I’m a sucker for anything that makes me laugh. So last Sunday, I broke out the barbecue and despite the rain we had Giant Lamb Koftas with Mint Yoghurt, Pitta Bread and Mixed Salad.
Here’s what you will need
- 1 kilo of minced lamb
- 2 tablespoons of tomato purée
- 3 tablespoons of honey
- 2 onions
- 6 to 8 cloves of garlic
- A big handful of mint leaves
- Salt & pepper
- A tablespoon of chili flakes
- A tablespoon of cumin seeds toasted and ground
- A tablespoon of caraway seeds treated likewise
Did I mention that it was raining? Well, it was. Not a deluge, nothing to get Noah herding the animals. But enough to get me wet as I scraped last year’s “I’ll do it later” off the grill. There is something enjoyable and manly about cleaning the barbecue as long as it is not raining. There’s no doubt that it’s women’s work when it is. However, my women (Wife, mother, daughters x 2 and dog x 1) all have too much sense to come out and help.
With the grill clean and hot (me the exact opposite on both counts), it was time to get the koftas underway. They take on a wonderful orange tint as the honey, tomato and spices combine to fill our neighbouring gardens with the aromas of tastiness.
When I barbecue, I do so in a peculiar way. Most men, beer can in hand, whack up the heat and burn the outside of everything, warming the botulism that resides within just enough to get it angry.
I prefer to get the grill hot to burn off anything that should have been cleaned off earlier. (Every time I use the barbecue, I promise myself that I will clean the grill when I am finished. Maybe some day.) Then turn it down to minimum, or thereabouts, to do my grilling. The result is a lot less smoke in the chef’s lungs, far less manly spraying of Budweiser to quell the grease fire, less cursing by the chef, tastier food and no trip to hospital for the family.
I am a cautious person so I took the precaution of soaking my innards with alcohol, just in case my chefing skills let me down. This fine drop of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon stood up well to the complex flavours of the koftas. That complexity compounded by a mixture of mint leaves and natural yoghurt on the side.
My conscience won out this time. I cooked in the rain to satisfy it. My life would be a little easier if I didn’t listen to my conscience so often. Then I think we could all say that, up to a point.
The recipe is a rough simulation of something found in this fine volume. I recommend it highly, even in this age of Epicurious and BBC Food online.