Persian spiced lamb and syrah

The 2019 Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Syrah went brilliantly with Persian spiced lamb. Cult Wine

To compensate for the dreariness of lockdown, I subscribed to My Food Bag (Gourmet edition), which I heartily recommend.

One of the high points has been this Persian spiced lamb with butter-roasted eggplant and tabbouleh, which went so well with a dense, peppery syrah that it could revive the myth that syrah originated from shiraz or chiraz—an important wine centre in ancient Persia (today’s Iran).

I matched the dish with the 2019 Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Syrah and the 2019 Smith and Sheth CRU Omahu Syrah. Both wines were brilliant.

The legend has it that syrah was introduced from Persia to Marseille by the Phocaeans around 600 BC or from Persia to the Vallée du Rhône by the Crusaders between 1095 and 1291. That is doubtful, according to Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz—because the Crusaders didn’t go as far as Persia.

Back to the recipe.

I cooked the lamb loins and eggplant on the barbecue which gives them a delicious smoky taste. I cooked the dish again using a leg of lamb, this time cooked in the oven, and garam masala spices purchased from the supermarket.

I matched the dish (on two occasions) with the 2019 Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Syrah (NZD $39.95) and the 2019 Smith and Sheth CRU Omahu Syrah (NZD $40). Both wines were brilliant.

Ingredients (serves two)

  • 1 cup bulgur wheat.
  • ½ tsp salt.
  • ½ telegraph cucumber, diced 1 cm.
  • ½ pack cherry tomatoes, cut in half.
  • ½ bunch parsley, finely chopped.
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar.
  • 1 eggplant cut in half lengthwise.
  • 1 drizzle of oil.
  • 1 tbsp butter diced.
  • ½ tsp Persian spices.
  • 1 pack of pine nuts.
  • 300 g of lamb loin.
  • ½ pack Persian spices (can substitute for garam masala).
  • 1 drizzle of oil.

To Serve

2 tbsp tahini yoghurt (plain yoghurt mixed with tahini to taste).

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C (or 200°C fan-baked). Bring a medium pot of salted water to the boil.
  2. Cook bulgur.

Cook Bulgur in boiling water for 8-10 mins. Once cooked, rinse with cold water to cool and leave to drain.

  1. Prep and cook eggplant.

Cut eggplant in half lengthwise and score (1 cm deep) cut side with the tip of a knife in a cross-hatched pattern. Rub eggplant with oil and season with salt. Place cut side down on a lined oven tray. Roast on upper oven rack for an initial 20 minutes. Dice butter.

  1. Prep lamb.

Pat lamb dry and score fat at 1cm intervals. Coat flesh side in first measure of Persian spices.

  1. Cook lamb.

Heat a medium dry fry-pan on medium heat. Cook loin, fat side down, for 7-8 minutes, until most fat is rendered and cap is golden brown. Flip and sear a further 1 minute, until lightly browned. Transfer to a lined oven tray and bake for about 4 minutes, or until medium-rare. Rest covered.

  1. Finish eggplant.

Once eggplant has had 20 minutes cook time remove from oven. Flip and scatter with butter, remaining Persian spices and pine nuts. Return to oven for about 6 minutes, until pine nuts are golden and eggplant is tender.

  1. To Finish.

Dice cucumber, chop cherry tomatoes in half and finely chop parsley. Toss together in a medium bowl with vinegar and bulgur. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Thinly slice lamb loin.

  1. Serve.

Tabbouleh topped with eggplant, lamb and tahini yoghurt.

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