Slow-roast lamb and bulgar wheat pilaf with saffron yogurt

Photography by Jonathan Gregson

A slightly altered recipe from the original sweet oat biscuits which were sent overseas from Australia to the serving Anzacs in World War I. I reckon the troops would have been happy with the added almonds and chia seeds though, as they add nutrients and a delicious texture to these slightly chewy, treacly cookies. The chocolate is optional, but is a delicious addition if you have some in the cupboard.

Serves 6–8
Ingredients:
1 large shoulder of lamb, weighing approx 3.5kg
3 garlic cloves, cut into thick slices
1⁄2 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sumac
5 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or syrup
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
200ml glass white wine seeds from 1 pomegranate
a handful of mint leaves, torn
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pilaf:
1 large aubergine, cut into 5cm chunks
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
a knob of butter 3 red onions
sliced 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon cumin
400g bulgar wheat*
675ml weak chicken or vegetable stock
a handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

For the rocket salad:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
150g rocket leaves, or watercress broken into sprigs
3⁄4 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthways and sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the yogurt dressing:
2 pinches of saffron
5 tablespoons Greek yogurt
a good squeeze of lemon juice
1⁄2 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon oil

*Alternative to bulgar wheat: cracked wheat, freekeh or long-grain rice

Directions:
1, Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 8.
2. First, make a start on the pilaf. Put the aubergine chunks and the garlic cloves into a roasting tin, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Roast in the oven for 20–30 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown. Remove, cool and set to one side.
4. Leave the oven on for the lamb. Meanwhile, place the lamb in a roasting dish and pierce all over with the pointy end of a knife.
5. Press the garlic pieces into the holes. In a bowl, mix together the cumin, sumac, molasses, 2 teaspoonfuls of olive oil and a good grinding of salt and pepper.
6. Rub the mixture all over the lamb then place in the oven. After 20 minutes take the lamb out of the oven and reduce the heat to 160°C/140°C fan/gas mark 3.
7. Pour the wine around the lamb and cover with foil.
8. Bake at the lower temperature for 31⁄2 hours, then remove the foil and finish cooking for a further 20 minutes.
9. Towards the end of the lamb’s cooking time, mix the lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning in a salad bowl.
10. Top with the rocket or watercress leaves and cucumber, but don’t toss, just leave in a cool place.
11. Remove the bulgar from the heat, stir in the parsley and taste for seasoning.
12. Continue with the pilaf. Put the butter and the 2 remaining teaspoonfuls of oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions slowly for about 10 minutes until soft and tinged with brown.
13. Add the cinnamon, cumin and bulgar wheat and stir together for a minute.
14. Pour in the hot stock (you will need to season with some salt if your stock is home-made), cover and cook gently for 10 minutes or until tender.
15. Add the roasted aubergine for the final 3 minutes.
16. Once the lamb is cooked, remove to a board and leave to rest loosely covered with foil for 15 minutes. Spoon off any fat on top of the lamb and keep the juices warm in a small pan.
17. Once the lamb has rested, shred onto a warm plate and keep warm in the now cooling oven, covered with foil.
18. Pour 1 tablespoonful of boiling water over the saffron threads and leave for 5 minutes, then stir into the yogurt with the lemon juice, garlic and oil, plus some salt and pepper.
19. Spoon the bulgar pilaf onto a warm platter and top with the shredded lamb and any juices.
20. Sprinkle with the mint and pomegranate seeds and serve with the yogurt dressing and the salad, tossed with its dressing.

This recipe can be found in Amazing Grains.

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