MIDDLE EASTERN LAMB CASSEROLE

A fragrant and gently aromatic lamb casserole which uses a lovely spice mix called Baharat which is well worth seeking out (large supermarkets and Amazon) and gives a wonderfully delicate flavour to the slowly cooked and soft lamb. Please don't be tempted to substitute tinned tomatoes for fresh ones because the strong (and rather acid) taste of tinned tomatoes will dominate causing the attractive subtlety of the dish to be lost

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsps. olive oil

  • 2 onions, finely chopped

  • 4 sticks of celery, finely sliced

  • 1 tbsp. Baharat spice mix

  • 1 kg lamb neck,  each piece cut into two or three 

  • 500g fresh tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped

  • 2tsps. tomato ketchup

  • 1 tsp. paprika

  • 60g pine kernels, toasted

  • Salt and pepper

Method

  • Using a sauté pan with lid or large saucepan, gently cook the onions and celery in 2 tbsps. of the olive oil with a pinch of salt until soft.  Add the Baharat spice and continue to cook, stirring, for a minute or so, until fragrant.  Tip the spiced onions and celery into a bowl and set aside for the moment.


  • Using the same pan (unwashed) add the remaining oil and brown the lamb in batches.


  • Return the onions and celery to the pan with all the browned lamb and add roughly 350g of the chopped fresh tomatoes, tomato ketchup, paprika and seasoning.  Don't be concerned at the lack of liquid.


  • Now, clamp on a lid and simmer very gently on the  hop with the heat turned very low for approximately an hour and a half, or until the lamb is meltingly tender and soft


  • Strew the remaining tomatoes on the top, sprinkle with the pine kernels and serve.