Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Spiced lamb with onions and raisins; and couscous with toasted almonds.

If you have the ingredients, this is easily achievable when camping if you’re good at juggling pots and pans over a slow fire. Not literally, of course; although that no doubt would entertain your fellow campers should the river rolling by cease to amuse. In any case, couscous is just instant pasta and the lamb is just a straightforward stew with a few exotic spices.

But the aroma! If you thought the last recipe was an outdoor drawcard, don’t cook this in a busy campsite. A kilogram of onions gently frying with cinnamon and raisins? Paddlesteamers would tie up.


Place one kilogram of cubed lamb, a big chopped onion and 1.75 litres of water into a large pot over hot embers. When it comes to the boil, throw in a teaspoon each of ginger and cinnamon, four cloves and a good shake each of salt and ground black pepper.

Too easy so far. Open a cold beer.

Keep the pot on a low simmer for half the afternoon; i.e., from lunchtime to afternoon tea, or from that to dinnertime. (Or ditto morning, if you're the enthusiastic type who likes to get cooking early.)

After a couple of lazy hours, add three or four saffron threads to the pot. Top up the water if your fire has been too hot. Let another hour drift by, along with the river.

During that time, chop about a kilogram of onions, or three or four large ones if you can’t be bothered measuring (and measuring is not crucial to this dish). Place them with a cup of water in a lidded pan over a cooler part of the fire, where they will bubble softly in the fluid until soft. Remove the lid after 30 minutes to let the remaining fluid evaporate, add a pinch of salt, 40 grams of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil; and cook until the onions start turning gold, like the sun over the red river gums. Now add two tablespoons of honey, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a cup of drained raisins. (Just soak them for half an hour prior.) Keep the onions over the fire until they start to caramelise.

Meanwhile gently fry a cup of blanched almonds in a little oil, drain them and chop half of them roughly. We're getting close to dinner. The sun is almost gone, but the heat remains.

Now cook the couscous. Stir 250 mls of warm salted  water into 250 g couscous in a lidded pan (use the one you used for the almonds), allow to swell a few minutes then add a tablespoon of oil and rub the couscous to break up lumps. Heat low for ten minutes, rub in some butter, stir. Add the chopped almonds to the couscous - and a dash of the lamb broth to moisten it.

Serving time. Place a hollowed mound of coucous in each bowl, put a serving of lamb into the hollow and cover it with the onion raisin mixture. Scatter the whole almonds over. Open another beer. Someone said this was a Moroccan dish. I wonder what makes it Moroccan? Probably not the river. Or the beer.  


Melbourne Girl said...

This is my kinda' meal! Absolutely delicious...cooked slowly and full of flavour

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