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Meliz Berg’s One-pot Minced Lamb and Conchiglie Pasta

Featuring tender minced lamb and plenty of halloumi, this simple Turkish Cypriot one-pot pasta couldn't be easier to make.

Introduction

Although I grew up watching and assisting my mum in the kitchen making endless numbers of börek (fried and baked pastries), there are some beautiful ‘shortcut’ recipes that we also cooked at home, and this is one of them. Some call this yalancı mantı (‘liar’ dumplings), where dry conchiglie pasta takes the place of freshly made dumplings and traps the cooked minced lamb in and around its perfectly shaped shells. What’s even better is that this pasta dish is all cooked in one pan and topped with a dollop of thick garlic yoghurt and a pul biber butter, the same flavours that appear in my Kıymalı Gül Böreği (Rose-Shaped Filo Meat Pies, pages 169-70 of Meliz’s Kitchen).

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Ingredients

1 chicken stock cube
1.2 litres (2 pints) boiling water
3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp tomato purée
500g (1 lb 2 oz) minced lamb
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
300g (10½ oz) conchiglie pasta
2 bay leaves
100g (3½ oz) halloumi cheese, finely grated
1 tsp dried mint
For the garlic yoghurt:
1 large garlic clove, finely grated
150g (5½ oz) thick set natural yoghurt
½ tsp sea salt flakes
For the chilli butter:
45g (1½ oz) unsalted butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Turkish sweet red pepper paste (tatlı biber salçası)
1 tsp pul biber
1 tsp dried mint

Method

Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water in a heatproof jug and leave to one side.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onions. Soften for 10–12 minutes until they turn a lovely light golden-brown colour. Add the cumin and paprika to the softened onions, stir well so that the spices release their aromatics, then stir through the tomato purée, ensuring that the onions are fully coated. Add the minced lamb to the pan, breaking it down with the back of a wooden spoon and stirring it through the other ingredients. Increase the heat a little, season with the salt and pepper and brown the meat for 4–5 minutes. Add the pasta to the pan with the bay leaves and stock, stir, bring to the boil, then reduce to a medium simmer for 10–12 minutes. Stir a couple of times as it cooks, being careful not to break apart the pasta shells.

Once the pasta is cooked through (but still al dente) and the liquid has reduced remove the pan from the heat and give it a gentle stir. Combine the halloumi and dried mint in a small bowl. Serve the pasta on plates with a sprinkling of the halloumi and mint mixture, a dollop of the Garlic Yoghurt and a drizzling of the Chilli Butter.

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