Ras-el-hanout Lamb with Zhoug recipe
By Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes from Northamptonshire swapped his business suit for ‘whites’ in 2011 to set up Gourmet Spice Co. Here he offers two superb recipes…
This is an easy but incredibly tasty dish, perfect for barbecues and al fresco dining. Of North African origin, Ras-el-hanout literally means ‘top shelf’, referring to the merchant using their finest spices for their best customers.
A unique blend often containing more than a dozen different spices according to what’s good at that time, the fresh ground ones have the best flavour. Increasingly available online or in good shops it’s definitely worth picking up when you see it because of its versatility.
This would works brilliantly with quail too but I chose lamb this time because it stands up better to the spicy accompaniment of Zhoug (see below).
Mark at the 2011 East Midlands Food Festival
Ras-el-hanout Lamb Cutlets
12 thick cut lamb cutlets
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp sea salt flakes
2 tbsp Ras-el-hanout
8 tbsp rapeseed oil
zest & juice of 1 lemon
1 Peel the garlic and mash it with the salt in a pestle and mortar. Add the spice, oil and lemon juice and mix to a loose paste.
2 Rub the lamb cutlets all over with the marinade and set them aside in a dish for a few hours, ideally overnight in the fridge. Take out an hour before using to get them to room temperature.
3 Get the barbecue or griddle pan hot, then place the lamb on it, cooking for 2-3 minutes, depending on thickness. Turn over and continue cooking for a further 2-3 minutes. It’s better to be pink than overdone so keep an eye on them.
4 Take off the heat and leave to rest for a few minutes. Serve with warm pitta breads, sour cream and a big dollop of Zhoug.
It’s difficult to convey how great Zhoug is until you try it for yourself and I guarantee it will become a firm favourite! Despite the huge proportion of chillies, it’s not insanely hot and incredibly vibrant and fresh. Keeping it in a jar in the fridge seems to mellow the heat even more, but deseed all the chillies the first time you make it if you’re still nervous.
20 green chillies – deseed some according to taste, I normally do 50/50
1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
1 cup fresh coriander
5-6 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 tsp caraway seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp sea salt flakes
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp water to loosen
1/4 cup of rapeseed oil
Put everything in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped and combined. If you have a bit more time you can chop everything by hand and combine, but I find there’s very little difference in the end result so usually opt for the path of least resistance.
It’ll keep for weeks in sterilised jars in the fridge although mine never lasts that long. Add a dollop to any barbecued meats – lamb is especially good, but it really is a good all rounder.