This dish is adapted from several different lamb-with-dried-fruits recipes I’ve found on Food Network. Most of the dishes I came across had a ton of ingredients and so many individual steps that it looked like one would spend an entire day preparing it and dirtying up every implement in the kitchen. Complicated isn’t a way I like to cook, so I created this simpler approach to a classic. The rice with vegetables can be served separately and is completely vegan.
You’ll need an electric slow-cooker or a dutch oven for slowly braising the meat.
For the Lamb
3 lbs. lamb, cubed or small bone-in cuts like chops, trimmed of all fat.
2 cups dried fruits, pitted and chopped. Traditionally apricots and golden raisins are used, but figs, dates and even a handful of prunes or cherries would be tasty.
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 head fresh cilantro
2t dried ginger
1/4 t cinnamon
1t freshly ground black pepper
Mix the spices together in a small bowl. Rinse the meat and pat dry, then coat with the spice mixture.
In the bottom of the slow cooker layer the onions and garlic, then the meat, and top with the dried fruits and drizzle the honey. Add the broth, place the lid on tightly, and set on high. Cook for 3 hours before testing the meat for tenderness. (If using a dutch oven layer the ingredients as above and place in a 275F oven.)
After cooking the meat should be very tender and pull apart easily with a fork. A total of 4 hours may be required depending on the size of the cuts used.
1 1/2 cups (dry measure) brown basmati rice
1 cup vegetable broth plus water to cover rice
1 large or 2 small red bell peppers
2 medium carrots
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
14 oz. can garbanzo beans (low sodium preferred)
1T olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a rice cooker, cook the rice according to the machine directions, substituting the vegetable broth for part of the water required. On the stove, use a small sauce pan with tight-fitting lid, add the rice and broth and then cover with water by 1 inch, cook on low heat until water is absorbed.
While the rice is cooking, wash and dice the onion, zucchini, pepper, and carrot. In a large skillet or shallow enamel brasier, sauté the onion and spices in the oil for a few minutes, then add the zucchini, pepper and carrot. Cook for about 3 minutes until the vegetables begin to cook but are still firm.
Add the tomatoes (with juice). Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans and add them as well. Cook for a few minutes more until some of the excess liquid from the tomatoes evaporates, then turn off the heat and let stand uncovered until the rice is done.
A few minutes before serving, add the cooked rice to the vegetables and toss to combine. Cover with a lid and if the dish has cooled off to much put it on low to reheat for a few minutes.
Tear the leafy head of the cilantro bunch from the stems, wash thoroughly and spin to dry. Roughly chop the cilantro just before serving the dish.
On a large platter, place the rice to make a bed. Layer the lamb and pour all of the cooked fruit/onion mixture over the top, then sprinkle heavily with the cilantro and serve immediately.