Munira Mahmud's Egyptian Lamb Fattah
My husband was born in Grenfell; his was one of the first families to move in. I learned how to make this dish from his mother. It’s traditional to serve it at Eid, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan. Don’t worry if you can’t find gum mastic (dried resin used as flavouring, sold in Middle Eastern shops and online); the dish works just as well without.
|7 tbsp||ghee or vegetable oil|
|2||onions, roughly chopped|
|900g||lamb neck fillet or boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 2.5cm pieces|
|½ tsp||gum mastic (optional)|
|8||cardamom pods, crushed|
|1 litre||chicken stock|
|300g||Egyptian short grain rice or long grain rice|
|1 tbsp||crushed garlic|
|5 tbsp||tomato purée|
|½ tsp||ground cumin|
|1 tbsp||white wine vinegar|
|Salt and pepper|
Heat 3 tablespoons of the ghee/oil in a large sauté pan on a medium heat and fry the onions for 5 minutes, until soft but not golden. Add the lamb and fry for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the gum mastic (if using), cardamom and bay leaves, followed by the stock. Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil and skim off the foam on the surface. Lower the heat, cover and gently simmer for 1 hour (or 1½ hours if using lamb shoulder), until tender.
Meanwhile, wash the rice until the water runs clear, then drain.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the ghee/oil in a heavy-based pan on a medium heat. Add the rice and stir until all the grains are coated. Add 450ml of the water and bring to the boil. Stir in ½ teaspoon of salt. Turn the heat to the lowest setting, cover and cook for 25–30 minutes, until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper. Split the pitta breads horizontally into two thin halves, then tear or cut them into bite-sized pieces. Spread on the baking sheet and bake for 10–12 minutes, turning them halfway through, until golden brown and crisp.
Heat the remaining ghee/oil in a pan on a medium heat. Fry the garlic until lightly golden. Add the tomato purée and fry for 2–3 minutes, stirring. Add the cumin and vinegar and stir for a few seconds. Add the remaining 400ml of water, stir until well blended, season and simmer for 15 minutes until reduced and thickened.
To assemble: spread the baked pitta pieces on a serving platter, top with the rice, then add the lamb and some stock from the pan. Drizzle some tomato sauce over the top. Serve with extra stock and tomato sauce on the side.