Lamb with saffron rice and walnuts


Ingredients to serve 4

8 lamb chops

2 tablespoons olive oil

Scant 100g shelled walnuts, chopped

2 teaspoons clear honey

Quarter teaspoon chilli flakes

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 onion, chopped

175g basmati or quick-cook long-grain rice, rinsed

600ml hot vegetable stock

Pinch of saffron threads, lightly crushed

Half a teaspoon ground turmeric

100g) frozen peas, thawed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 150C/gas mark 2. Brush the chops with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet or frying pan, add the chops, and cook for 1 minute on each side. Transfer to a roasting pan and roast for 1 hour, turning the chops halfway through the cooking time.

Meanwhile, dry-fry the walnuts in a ovenproof skillet or frying pan for 1 minute, then stir in the honey and chilli flakes. Put the pan into the oven with the lamb and let dry for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Heat a saucepan, add the fennel seeds, and dry-fry for 1 minute or  until they release their aroma. Tip  the seeds onto a plate and return the pan to the heat. Add the remaining  olive oil, then add the onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally,  for 7–8 minutes until the onion starts to color. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Gradually stir in the hot vegetable stock and season with salt and  pepper. Return the fennel seeds to the pan and stir in the walnuts, saffron, and turmeric. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10–15 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the peas and heat through, then add the chopped mint. Serve the lamb chops with the saffron rice and walnuts.

Taken from ‘The Lebanese Kitchen’  by Salma Hage (Phaidon, £29.95).