Afi’s Lamb Roulade

Today we are sharing another recipe from Meze: Snacks, Small Plates and Street Food from the Middle East, by Sally Butcher, one that hails from her mother-in-law Afi. A minced lamb casing is wrapped around two different fillings, one being whole eggs, carrots and herbs, and the other a mix of spinach, walnuts and dried fruit. These are lightly floured and fried to seal, before being baked in a saucy coat of tomato paste, lemon juice and chicken stock.

Afi's Lamb Roulade

By now, we hope you’ve read our cookbook review of Meze and bookmarked yesterday’s recipe for Aubergine-Wrapped Chicken?

Afi's Lamb Roulade
5 from 2 votes

Afi’s Lamb Roulade

Afi is my mother-in-law. She’s over 70 now, but looks a good 20 years younger, and rules her little Peckham/Persian roost with tenacity, generosity, humour and a rod of iron. We get on famously, and in this I am very lucky, because Iranian mothers-in-law are notoriously pernickety, worthy of every mother-in-law joke in the book and worse. Afi has been cooking this dish for many years and has made it quite her own, but I think it was originally based on a recipe by Roza Montazemi and the name indicates French origins (Iran has a history of trading with the French dating back to the sixteenth-century Safavid empire). It is one of the few dishes that my father-in-law will agree to eat without a mountain of rice on the side: it’s usually enjoyed with bread, yogurt and fresh herbs.
Author Sally Butcher

Ingredients

For the casing:

  • 1 kg (2lb 4oz) minced ground lamb
  • 1 large onion, grated
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the fillings:

  • 8 baby carrots, scrubbed, topped and tailed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
  • 1 big bunch spinach
  • 100 g (3 1⁄2 oz /1 cup) walnut halves, crumbled
  • 125 g (4oz) pitted dried sour cherries or prunes

For cooking:

  • Flour (Afi uses chickpea flour, but plain / all-purpose flour will do
  • splash of oil
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 400 ml (14fl oz /1 3⁄4 cups) chicken stock or water

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6.
  • Firstly, mix the lamb and all the other casing ingredients together, working the meat to blend all the flavours.

  • For the first filling, boil the carrots whole so that they are a bit more than al dente.
  • Hard-boil the eggs (10 minutes with a splash of vinegar works for me) and peel them. Take half the roulade mixture and form it into 2 fat sausages. Split them lengthways and arrange the whole carrots, whole eggs and chopped herbs in the cavity thus created so that every bite and slice will look pretty. Mould the meat back to cover the hidden filling.
  • For the second filling, steam or stir-fry the spinach for just a few seconds. Take the rest of the minced mixture and, again, make it into 2 fat sausages, this time filling it with spinach, walnuts and fruit.
  • Roll each of the mince sausages gently in flour, then fry them in a little oil just to seal them. Next place the lightly browned roulades in an oven tray tin. Blend the tomato paste with the lemon juice and stock and pour it over the roulades: they should be half covered with sauce.
  • Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45–50 minutes. Slice thickly and serve. And there you go: Persian meatloaf – a perfect midweek supper.

Recipe extracted from Meze: Snacks, Small Plates and Street Food from the Middle East, by Sally Butcher with permission from publisher Pavilion Books. Image credit to Yuki Sugiura. Currently available from Amazon UK (at time of publishing) for £9.56 (RRP £12.99). 

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