“Here we are with the warm flavours of the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean, with a dish that reminds you of the kebab shops in the souks of Istanbul, with a wafting wonderful aroma of grilled, spiced meat.
“The contrast in the recipe is in the double textures of eggplant—one that is roasted in the oven and blended with spice, olive oil and lemon; and the other, which gets caramelized with honey and sherry vinegar for a bright, powerful agrodolce. The large-pearled couscous is a perfect bed on which to absorb the juices of the lamb.
“There are sweet, tangy, and roasted notes here, perfectly complemented with a refreshing dressing of yoghurt, cucumber and mint,” says chef Daniel Boulud.
Serves 8 – Preparation time 1 hour – Cooking time 30 minutes
DRINK PAIRING – Full-bodied Southern Rhône such as Gigondas
For the Spiced Lamb
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons (8.5g) harissa spice mix
- grapeseed oil, as needed
- 1 lamb saddle, trimmed into two loins and two tenderloins
- ½ teaspoon (1g) dried mint
- ½ teaspoon (1g) dried parsley
For the Eggplant Purée & Glazed Eggplant
- 4 large eggplants
- olive oil, as needed
- salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 teaspoon (1g) harissa spice mix
- juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup (60ml) sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons (42g) honey
For the M’hamsa Couscous
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 pints (0.95L) chicken stock
- 2 pints (1 L) m’hamsa couscous
- 2 pinches harissa spice mix
- salt and freshly ground white pepper
For the Yoghurt Sauce
- 1 cup (200g) peeled, seeded and grated cucumber
- salt and freshly ground white pepper
- 2 cups (480g) thick Greek yogurt
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled, germ removed, and finely grated
- 1 lemon, zest freshly grated
- 4 tablespoons (8 grams) fresh chopped mint
- Fleur de sel
- A few small pieces lavash cracker
- ½ cup mint leaves
Marinate the Lamb
- Combine harissa spice mix with enough grapeseed oil to make a slurry.
- Brush onto the lamb and refrigerate overnight.
Make the Eggplant Purée
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Slice 2 eggplants in half lengthwise and rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with aluminium foil, cut side down, and bake for 25 minutes, or until very tender.
- Remove the aubergines from the oven, and when cool enough to handle, scrape away the flesh and discard the skin.
- Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the shallot and garlic. Sweat for 2 minutes, or until translucent, then add the cooked eggplant and spice mix. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the spices smell toasted.
- Transfer cooked contents to a blender and purée with the lemon juice and enough olive oil to make a smooth purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Make the Glazed Eggplant
- Slice remaining eggplants lengthwise into 1/2-inch (1.25cm) thick slices. Cut slices into (at least 32) rectangles about 3-inches (7.5cm) long and 1-inch (2.5cm) wide.
- With a small knife, lightly score the flesh on both sides of the eggplant slices in a crosshatch pattern and season them with salt and pepper.
- Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add half of the eggplant in a single layer (you may need to do this in batches) and sear until golden brown on both sides, about 1 minute each.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the sherry vinegar and honey. Bring to a simmer until reduced to a glaze. Set aside and repeat with the remaining eggplant.
Make the Couscous
- Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until translucent. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
- Stir in the couscous and spice and return to a boil. Remove from the stove and cover with a lid.
- Rest for 7 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Make the Yogurt Sauce
- Toss the grated cucumber with 1 teaspoon (6g) salt, and rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, to extract the liquid.
- Squeeze dry and transfer to a small bowl, combine all ingredients and season to taste.
- Reserve, chilled until ready to serve.
Cook the lamb
- When ready to serve, preheat a grill to medium high heat.
- Grill the lamb on all sides until medium rare, about 5‐8 minutes total (130°F (54.5°C) with a meat thermometer).
- Remove from the grill and rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- For each serving, spread a spoonful of eggplant purée on the bottom of a plate.
- Place a spoonful of couscous adjacent, top with four pieces of the glazed eggplant and set slices of lamb on top.
- Sprinkle the lamb with fleur de sel.
- Scoop a spoonful of yoghurt sauce onto the lamb, and place a lavash cracker and sprig of mint on top.
- The main components of this dish can also be made as a kebab with other more affordable cuts of lamb such as leg or shoulder.
- Pre-salting and straining the cucumber for the mint sauce will prevent the juices from weeping into the yoghurt.
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Images courtesy Rosewood Baha Mar.