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El ham lahlou (Algerian rice and lamb)

July 1, 2014

Soupurb’s founder Gem is taking a backseat for a while as blogs with more social and political  impact soak up her screen time. She has entrusted the care of soupurb to a guest editor. But thankfully, Ms Soupurb’s cooking is now back on track after a forced retirement,  and we can still share her inspired culinary journeys. Here is one of her latest finds. A North African stew of slow-cooked lamb with prunes and orange blossom. Serves six to eight.

El ham lahlou                          


12 prunes, destoned
200ml orange juice
50g butter
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 onions, sliced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cumin
1kg lamb neck fillet, chopped into 3cm pieces
400g tin of chickpeas, drained
50g blanched almonds

1 firm pear, cored and chopped

A splash of red-wine vinegar
2 tbsp orange blossom water
Cooked couscous, to serve
½ bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped, to serve
Greek yoghurt, to serve

Pop the prunes in a bowl, pour over the orange juice and leave to soak for one hour.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and stir in the garlic, onion, cinnamon and cumin. Sauté for 15 minutes, until the onion is soft and sticky but not coloured.

Turn up the heat slightly, add the lamb and brown for 2-3 minutes. Season, then tip in the prunes and their soaking juice. Cover with 300ml of water, bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat for one hour.

Stir in the chickpeas, almonds and pear, and simmer for a further 30 minutes. To finish, season and stir in the red-wine vinegar and orange blossom water. Serve on a bed of couscous with the parsley scattered over and a dollop of yoghurt on the side.

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