Tava (Cypriot Lamb w. Cumin and Tomato)

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I wasn’t sure that I was going to get the chance to make this recipe this month. I had it on my wish list but having the oven on for 3 hours when it’s 35c outside wasn’t particularly appealing. Fortunately we’ve had some cooler days over the past weekend which made it acceptable to try.

As this was doing its magic in the oven we had Mr G’s parents over helping out with a few chores and his mum told me about a dish she makes just like this but in her electric fry pan. With no Greek heritage to speak of it turns out this easy idea of putting everything in to cook together is not limited to one culture and the ingredients were almost identical.   For me it opens up plenty of possibilities in my mind of different meat bakes I could create along a similar vein that would make the preparation of the meal simple, but the resulting flavours very rewarding.

I loved the simplicity of the recipe and found the flavours worked really well together.  Cumin seeds are not something I would think to cook with regularly but they were a great match with these ingredients.  I did find with all the olive oil that I skipped the butter and still found the end result to be quite oily.  I think this was because I used lamb chops and they had a bit of their own fat on them so next time I’d minimise the fat I add and just let the vegetables cook in the lamb fat.  I also loved that I could put this together in the pan and walk away from it all.  As Tessa suggests, you could place dinner in the oven, go out for coffee and find your house smelling divine and your meal ready to go when you get home.  A great Sunday dish to create in my mind and a recipe I will definitely be making again with only minor modifications.

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Tava 

* from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros

  • 2 Red Onions roughly chopped
  • 1.5kg (approx 9 medium) potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1.2kg lamb shoulder cut into chunks (or use lamb chops)
  • 4 tbl sp. Continental Parsley
  • 3 heaped tsp. Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 5 ripe Roma tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • Salt and Cracked Black Pepper for seasoning.
  • 3 tbl sp butter or equivalent of olive oil.

Preheat your oven to 180c.  Put the onion, potato and lamb into a large baking dish.  Season well with salt and cracked black pepper.

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Add the parsley, cumin and olive oil and mix very well.  If you choose to use lamb chops then cut the olive oil down to 1/4 cup.

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Place the tomato slices on top in a single layer and salt.  Dot over the butter or drizzle the extra olive oil and then add 1/2 cup of water to the pan.

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Cover with foil and place in the oven to bake for 2 hours.  At the end of this cooking time the lamb should be tender and potatoes soft.

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Remove the foil, increase the oven temperature to 200c and bake for a further hour or until the potatoes are browned and crispy on the edges.

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Serve hot with some green vegetables or a salad and a good glass of red wine.

Leah

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