Why we started this idea????

A passion for food, wine, friends and entertaining is a big part of our life. This is a way for us to document our experiences, passion for food & life and also share it with others.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

GCC: Harissa Lamb with Eggplant & Whole Wheat Pooris

This week's choices for our Gutsy Cooks Club hosting month were of the Moroccan/Indian variety. Harissa Lamb with Eggplant, Whole Wheat Pooris and Saffron Kulfi (in a soon to come post) from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible.

Obviously we love to cook and our passion for cooking comes from a variety of inspirations but often from a consistent desire to continue to push ourselves to try new things. This "push" is balanced with our goal of perfecting some of  our tried and true recipes as well.

But this week's picks were definitely about trying 3 recipes we had not only never cooked but also never even tasted. So that adventure in itself made it a festivity  of sorts for us.

Now we have to apologize we realized while shopping for ingredients we found this was definitely not a budget minded meal in anyway. Although if you did choose to make your own Harissa and Tahini that might of helped with the cost a bit. We didn't take this route on this Thursday evening but would love to try to make our own Harissa paste in the future.

T went out and picked up our needed ingredients. We invited a fellow foodie friend to come enjoy this meal with us.

We didn't get "real gutsy" on this one as the "gutsy" came from making some dishes that we were fully unfamiliar with but a few adaptations we did make included:
  • We used Lamb chops (boneless leg center cut) instead of the loin of lamb as there were only 3 of us for dinner.
  • We decided to grill our lamb. Pretty much June through October our goal is to use our oven as least as we possibly can. Even if it is only 62 degrees outside in mid- June (yes, more weather whining.)
The lamb all started with this:

Harissa. Which we had never had before. Harissa is Morrocan red chile paste. When you open the jar it has a very fresh red pepper aroma and an interesting flavor profile. Here is a recipe I found for Harissa on about.com if you'd like to make it yourself.

For a very spicy harissa: use a blend of cayenne, chile de arbol, or cayenne with a milder chile like ancho chilies
For a medium spiciness: use a blend of New Mexico chilies with guajillo chilies

Prep Time: 10 minutes, Total Time: 10 minutes


  • 10-12 dried red chili peppers
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin


Soak the dried chilies in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain. Remove stems and seeds.

In a food processor combine chili peppers, garlic, salt, and olive oil. Blend.

Add remaining spices and blend to form a smooth paste.

Store in airtight container. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on top to keep fresh. Will keep for a month in the refrigerator.

I used the Harissa with lemon juice, olive oil and chopped mint to create a marinade for the lamb chops. We only marinated for an hour but you could marinade for up to 24 hours and I would predict that would be even better for soaking up those flavors.

While the lamb was marinating I roasted the eggplants in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes. (We've roasted eggplant many times but never whole so this was a new technique.) The eggplant made an accompanying side very much like a hummus.

Once the eggplant was done we let them cool before peeling them.

They were then added to the food processor with Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and a flavor we love:

Tahini. Interesting enough Tahini paste is actually made of ground sesame seeds and is a large flavor profile within any hummus recipe. After pure'ed we added salt & pepper to the mixture.

Next we moved onto to preparing the Whole Wheat Pooris. Which was like a deep fried, crispy naan of sorts. I gathered the ingredients:

I never could find the called for black onion seeds so I subbed black sesame seeds for the same type appearance.

I made a dough with water, canola oil, sesame seeds, salt, cumin seeds, sugar and onion powder (to replace the onion flavor missed without the onion seeds.)

The dough sat for 45 minutes before being divided and rolled into 8 small discs.

I then fried the discs in 350 degree oil outside on the grill's side burner.

The pooris puffed up when fried.

Finally the G prepared the grill, I removed the lamb from the marinade

and we cooked our lamb chops.

I opened a bottle of 2008 Yakima Valley Cabernet Franc from Whidbey Island winery.Whidbey Island is a great little island just a short ferry ride from Tacoma or Seattle. Mostly a resort type of town but we must go check out there tasting room soon. We are becoming big fans of Cab Francs. Typically it is used as a blending grape but more and more you can find it as a single varietal and when it's good, it's great.

This was spectacular and pair very nicely with our moroccan flavored meal. To learn more about Cabernet Francs go here:

We loved our Moroccan themed meal. The lamb had a great flavor. The pooris was perfect to scoop up the eggplant.

We learn so much about new flavor profiles and what works well together when we try recipes like these. It's recipes like these that keeps our food passion going.

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