Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lamb dumplings cooked in yogurt

Makes 70 pieces
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
200g lamb mince
½ medium sized onion
good pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of allspice
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
1kg cow’s or sheep’s yogurt
1 egg white
1tsp corn flour diluted with ½ tbsp water
1tbsp fresh cream (optional)
2-3 garlic cloves, pounded until creamy
1 small bunch coriander, leaves and tender stems only, finely chopped

For the dough:
200g unbleached all purpose white flour
½ tsp salt, or to taste
½ tsp organic cider vinegar

Make the dough. Combine the flour, salt and vinegar, gradually add about 150ml water, and mix and knead for about 3-4 min to form a pliable dough. Over with a clean cloth and leave to rest for 30 min.
Meanwhile, heat ½ tbsp of the oil in a non-stick frying pan, add the mince and grate the onion over it. Cook until the meat changes color, about 4 min. If a liquid appears wait until it has nearly evaporated, then stir in the cinnamon, allspice, pepper, and slat. Turn the heat off.
Divide the dough into 2 portions. Roll one portion thinly over a lightly floured surface and, with a biscuit cutter, cut it into 2.5cm/1inch rounds. Place about 1tsp of the meat mixture in the center of each. Bring the opposite sides together to make a half moon shape, pinch to secure, then bring the two pointed ends together and pinch to seal, leaving a hole in the middle. Place on waxed paper to prevent them from sticking.
Thoroughly mix the yogurt with the egg white and corn flour paste and sieve into a pan. Place over medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon in one direction till boiling. Stir in the cream if using. Add the dough parcels and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5-8 min, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile heat the remaining oil in a nonstick frying pan. Add the garlic and coriander and sauté for a few seconds only. Pour this over the yogurt in the pan and leave for 1 min.

These were probably the most unusual thing that I made from New Flavours of the Lebanese Table . I have a hard time trying to think of anything to compare it to in western coking. Sure on one level, it’s just dumplings, and they are nothing new, but the cooking in yogurt was so new and different for me. My husband said that the yogurt sauce was reminiscent of the sweeter Indian curries, and I can totally see that, mostly because of the texture, not the flavor.

The filling is already cooked, so there is no worry about undercooked meat, the yogurt is just for cooking the dough, which is so thin that it doesn’t require to much cooking anyway.

The tiny little dumplings take a long time to make. Each one is quick, but this recipe makes 70 of them. That seems like a lot but they are so small that 70 dumplings will feed about 4 people.

Definitely not a quick recipe, but it was good, and it was unusual enough that I feel it is worth trying (if you have some free time for cooking).

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