There are dishes that look easy and effortless to make, and then there are those that look like you need a quarter of a day and a culinary degree to whip up. But looks can be deceptive.
Some dishes look simple to make, but the prep can seem endless because of the amount of hands-on involvement required. This can come in the form of frequent stirring and hovering over the pot, with actual skill-based work, or even with incessant chopping. I usually avoid these as much as I can.
Other dishes may look elaborate, but can come together with very little effort. They may involve roasting something in the oven or bunging stuff into a pot and letting it simmer away for hours. Requires time, yes. But are you really doing that much work? I know I’m constantly yammering about this any chance I get, but this is key. This is the detached and low-effort style of cooking that suits me. And these are the kinds of recipes that I’d like to develop more of and share with you here.
On that note: this dish. The lamb gets tossed with spices, tomato paste and dates (wild card ingredient for sweetness and depth). And cooked in a pressure cooker. No sautéing of onions, garlic, none of that. While the lamb cooks, so does the pumpkin: tossed in some basic seasonings and roasted in the oven.
When the lamb is tender, cool slightly before shredding with your fingers. Depending on your cut of lamb, you’ll have a little or a significant amount of lamb juices in the pot. Turn the heat up and reduce this just enough to thickly coat the shreds. As for the mash, blend and plate up. Pomegranate arils and mint leaves provide acidity and freshness, and cut through the richness of the meat and spices.
This dish freezes very well too, so if I were you I’d definitely make extra. Freeze the mash and lamb separately.
SPICED LAMB WITH ROASTED PUMPKIN MASH
- 500 grams boneless lamb, cubed
- 3 teaspoons coriander powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika (I used a mild one)
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder (or 3 garlic cloves, minced)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon sumac (optional)
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste (see notes)
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 dates, finely chopped (or blended if too dry)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 750 grams pumpkin, cubed
- 5 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup pomegranate arils
- ¼ cup chopped mint leaves
- Preheat the oven to 200 C. Toss the pumpkin and garlic cloves in olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 30 mins in the top rack of your oven.
- Once the pumpkin is tender, add to a blender jar. Squeeze out the garlic and add. Coarsely blend to a thick mash, adding a bit of water if necessary to loosen.
- Toss the lamb with tomato paste, dates and all the spices listed above. Add to a pressure cooker with ½ cup of water. Cook until tender. Test a piece to see if it easily shreds. (Alternatively cook this in a covered pot. Check a few times in between and add more water in this case.)
- Once cool enough to handle, remove the meat pieces and shred with your fingers.
- Add the meat back into the pot and turn the heat up under the pressure cooker/pot. Let the meat juices in the pan reduce to a thick sauce. Just enough to coat the meat. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Divide the mash between plates. Top with the spiced lamb. Sprinkle over mint and pomegranate. Serve hot.