rice and meat
Meat and rice is Lebanese comfort food. So like risotto in many ways, offering a simple meal with few ingredients, this dish is a firm family favourite. While Scotland has “mince and tatties”, this might be the Lebanese equivalent, except with less meat. Another clever Lebanese recipe stretching a small amount of meat to feed four generously. It’s the spices which are the real star of the dish. Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, Aleppo pepper, white pepper, and black pepper – without these wonderful additions, the dish would fall flat. If ever you’ve felt a bit disappointed when cooking mince, give this recipe a go.
A grander version involves cooking a whole chicken to make the stock, which is then used to cook the rice. The chicken is then shredded and arranged on top of the mound of fragrant rice and meat. A scattering of almonds and pine nuts cooked in a little butter on top provides crunch, as well as adding to its nutritional value. But for a simpler feast, the recipe below will take you 30 minutes, prepping and cooking time. For a cost of around £4.00 for the ingredients, assuming there’s chicken stock in the freezer, there’s a meal for four. Chopped up tomatoes with plenty of lemony salad dressing is key in our household, but plain yoghurt is also popular.
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp Zejd extra virgin olive oil
250g lamb, minced
1 tsp ground cinnamon,
2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg, grated
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp salt
250g rice, basmati
500ml chicken stock, hot
30g pine nuts plus a tablespoon as a garnish.
- Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan, and add the onion. Cook gently over a low flame for 7 minutes or so until soft and translucent but not brown.
- Add the minced lamb on a medium flame, browning quickly. Add the spices and mix thoroughly so that the meat smells fragrant.
- In a separate small frying pan, add a knob of butter and the pine nuts. Over a low flame gently cook until golden. Add these to the saucepan with the mince mixture and mix well.
- Tip the rice into the saucepan, and stir lifting any of the spices which have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the hot chicken stock and mix. Bring to the boil and then put the lid on, reduce the flame to the lowest setting and leave for 15min for the rice to absorb the chicken stock.
Chopped up tomatoes in a lemony dressing – made with juice of a whole lemon, a generous pinch of salt and 100ml of Zejd extra virgin olive oil goes well alongside, as does plain yoghurt.