I know, right? Amazing. I bet your stomach is rumbling just looking at it.
Well, yesterday, in my humble 80's kitchen, I somehow managed to recreate this dish for my Mum for Mother's Day. It involved three days of marinating and 12 hours of roasting (I hope this doesn't affect our gas bill!) but was so worth it.
I know mine doesn't look as aesthetically appealing at Maha's beautifully presented bowl of lamb- but the taste, when combined with the gorgeous tabbouleh, was unreal. Our table fell completely silent as we devoured this dish, me swelling up with pride. The lamb just fell away from the bone when carving and melted in your mouth, and my Dad, who detests anything even remotely close to a salad, said the tabbouleh was the best 'salad dish' he has ever tasted.
I just love slow cooking. I think there is something so special about giving time to your food. Planning your dish so far in advance that you go to the effort three days before to marinate it. Seeing it in the fridge marinating, anticipating the dish was exciting for a foodie like me. Then, waking up at 7am (okay, maybe that part wasn't fun) to lovingly place the lamb into an oven at 100 degrees, and waking up (again) two hours later to a kitchen full of Middle Eastern flavours- our mouths watered all day long! Turning the meat during the day, making sure it is basted and watching as it becomes more and more tender until finally 12 hours later serving it up to those that you love and watching them enjoy it- does it really get better than that for someone who loves to cook?
Here is the link to Shane Delia's original recipe:
Those of you who know me will know its very hard for me to follow a recipe to the letter. So of course, there are a few little changes I made based on what was around the house. I didn't have cumin seeds, so I used already crushed cumin. Also, for the tabbouleh, I couldn't find burghul in my last minute dash to the supermarket, so I used cous cous instead- just cooked it as per the box instructions then mixed it through the salad. I also added finely chopped red onion. The parsley and mint was picked straight from my garden. Mum also made some chilli oil roast potatoes to serve with the dish.
As well as the lamb being delicious, the tabbouleh partners with it so well. The fresh flavours really compliment the rich, tender, melt in your mouth lamb. This is going to be my go-to side dish for everything now! So simple, easy and quick to throw together, and fairly healthy too.
There is something special about taking a dish you have loved so much during a restaurant experience, and being able to make your own version at home. So how did it compare? Obviously, it was not AS GOOD as the original... is anything ever as good as the original? But it came pretty close. For a home cooked meal, it was a pretty impressive piece of meat. Lets just say I will never bother cooking lamb in the conventional two hour roast way again after seeing the difference in slow cooking it. And of course, sharing this dish on such a special day for my wonderful Mum just made it even more delicious.
Although it sounds complicated, this is the perfect lazy Sunday meal. You can put the meat in early in the morning, laze around all day and check on it every now and then, then throw together the tabbouleh in the afternoon. For something that takes so long to cook, it really does a lot of the work itself! And I highly recommend you head to the restaurant to try the original one day too.