Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Maqluba Lamb Roll
Less you think all is always rosy and smooth-sailing in the kitchen of Life is Great, allow me to let you in on a piece of heartache. While this wasn't a completely sunken ship (the only reason why I can still show you something now), it gave me enough grief to rain endless barrage of expletives at myself while everything seemed to be falling apart and further away from what I imagined to be a foolproof adaptation. It all began with two forlorn looking bottles of sumac and zatar brought all the way from Dubai from a good friend. Before the prized reddish and green herbs threaten to go brown on me, I got a pound of minced lamb to attempt some sausage rolls from the mince recipe of an ancient Islamic manuscript (thanks to my friend Ibrahim of the tom yam kung fame) instead of the tired old burger, meatballs or patties.
The mince ended up hibernating in the freezer for months. It's not that I forgot about it. Something else always came up. As February rolled over and I finally found some time to breathe, one night I finally got to the past-its-prime minced meat and hunkered down to prepare the spiced filling. The plan was to chill it overnight and roll them the next day for dinner. Only when next day came, we had too much for lunch and decided to skip dinner, so the filling got rolled and stuck into the freezer instead of being cooked. They were retrieved the following morning to thaw way too long after a brunch and a manicure-pedicure date. While the rolls fell apart in my hot skillet, my puff pastry was also softening at warp speed in the surrounding heat. By the time I got to the rolling bit, I was beside myself in panic - filling not cooled completely, melting pastry and un-floured rolling surface.
Despite all that, I championed the cause, wrestling with puff sticking all over the place, picking up crumbly meat, getting pastry into the filling and shaping up questionable looking rolls before slapping on some eggwash and sticking them into the oven, hoping at least for flavor if not looks. But if all these years of being in the kitchen had taught me anything, it was this - if you feel bad about something, normally it will be bad. So the rolls came out with slightly under-seasoned (I was worried about overdoing the salt), flat textured (readymade frozen for months mince, what did I expect?) and missing the mint (I mistakenly thought I could get away with parsley). Shop-bought puff didn't help my cause either, but Vijay was kind and we finished the rolls by the next day. If anything were to pull me out of being such a chicken shit about making my own puff, it's eating readymade ones.
Now that you've glimpsed into another one of my bad kitchen moments and perhaps was involuntarily reminded of your own hiccups, be rest assured that this has passed and would in no way deter me from another attempt, once I get around to that homemade puff, next month, maybe.
Maqluba Lamb Roll
Filling recipe adapted from Maqluba in a 13th century Arabic manuscript of Al-Baghdadi, compiled in Cariadoc's Miscellany. Roll instruction adapted from The Australian Gourmet Traveller's Bangalow pork sausage rolls with caramelised apple and thyme.
Serves 4 to 6.
Prep time 20 minutes, stand time 3 hours, cook time approximately 20 minutes.
Note: I believe with proper application and less laziness, this adaptation of the Maqluba should be flawless. Get a fresh cut and mincing your own meat, be it beef, lamb or pork. Replacing the mint with parsley was a desperate move on my part which I don't recommend - nothing beats the refreshing hit of mint if you are using lamb. Needless to say, if you make your own puff pastry, I will bow to you in awe and wish we are neighbors.
- 10 ounces red meat (I used lamb mince)
- 2 tablespoons dried sumac
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoons dry mint (I didn't have this and used dry parsley)
- 1 1/4 cups walnuts, ground coarsely
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- salt to taste
- 1 sheet/375grams butter puff pastry
- 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- black and white sesame seeds, for garnish
Either use ground lamb or take lamb meat, chop it with a knife, then pound in a mortar. (I highly suggest mincing your own meat.) Both ways work but give different textures. In a frying pan, boil sumac in water about for about 2 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add in the meat and simmer on medium low heat about 15 minutes. Drain the meat over a fine sieve, sprinkle it with lemon juice and let dry for about 1 hour. Mix meat with all the spices. Add in walnuts, salt and eggs. Shape mince into logs, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 220°C. Heat up a frying pan or skillet and add in the sesame oil. Unwrap the cold sausage rolls and fry each meat roll on medium heat for about 3 minutes evenly. Set aside to cool.
Place puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Place the cooled meat roll along one long edge, leaving a 1cm border, brush with eggwash and roll to just enclose the meat. Cut along edge, press with a fork to seal then cut into three rolls. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment and repeat with remaining pastry and sausage roll. Brush tops with eggwash, scatter with sesame seeds and bake until golden and cooked through, about 15-17 minutes. Serve warm with a side salad or tart chutney.
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12 Comments on Maqluba Lamb Roll
They look perfectly delicious... If this is a bad kitchen moment for you, then your bad moments are better than my good :) if you don't mind me asking, I'm interested in what Islamic manuscript these are from?
Posted by Anonymous, at Mar 6, 2012, 12:57:00 PM
ODB: Thank you for your kind comments. As per noted in my recipe byline, it's a 13th century Arabic manuscript of Al-Baghdadi, the recipes were compiled in Cariadoc's Miscellany.
Posted by PickYin, at Mar 6, 2012, 1:18:00 PM
Great lamb rolls! Really delicious looking.
Posted by Rosa's Yummy Yums, at Mar 6, 2012, 3:44:00 PM
you are too hard on yourself, but i think that aren't we all?
if it is any consolation, homemade puff pastry is overrated and as long as you buy good quality, ready made puff pastry, you're golden. either way, i do look fwd to reading about your attempt.
Posted by Angry Asian, at Mar 6, 2012, 11:40:00 PM
We don't eat red meat. Can I use chicken?
Posted by Avis Stein, at Mar 7, 2012, 5:41:00 AM
Rosa: Thank you.
Angry Asian: The problem is we don't have many choices of ready made puff pastry here. At the very good supermarket there's only one brand. I'm not sure if I'll ever get to making my own but I think I must try it at least once.
Avis: Yes you can use chicken but maybe change the spices a bit to suit the poultry (rosemary, oregano, marjoram, thyme).
Posted by PickYin, at Mar 7, 2012, 10:32:00 AM
Looks delicious ! It is quite painful to do your own puff pastry. It takes few hours...
Posted by buy lamb, at Mar 7, 2012, 9:53:00 PM
oh gosh! it looks positively scrumptous! Ancient Islamic script sounds so exotic....so Scheherazade!And kudos for making your own puff pastry, a painful task which I'm not very keen in reprising anytime soon.
Posted by Alan (travellingfoodies), at Mar 7, 2012, 11:21:00 PM
These do look fantastic... And I agree with earlier comments- if your kitchen disasters are still web-worthy, I'm even more ashamed of my own!! I wonder if phyllo dough could be used? In terms of seasoning, I recently got some AMAZING sumac from this tiny shop in Seattle that sources all things directly, and makes all of their own blends right there in house... The other spices in here are reminiscent of the Arabic Baharat I picked up there, too... http://www.worldspice.com/blends/baharat-arabic. Good news, they do web orders, too! I think I'm going to have to give these a try with a few twists, despite the warning label. Can't wait to see what you come up with on try two!
Posted by interpalatarytravel, at Mar 8, 2012, 3:43:00 AM
Oh my goodness. I've fallen in love with this. And the rest of your lamb recipes. Amazing!
Posted by Adriana, at Mar 8, 2012, 4:00:00 AM
buy lamb: Actually it takes many hours, but I really want to see if I can wing it like I did the rough puff.
Alan: I haven't attempted the puff yet, just the rough puff. I just want to see how much pain it will cause me, heheh...
interpalatarytravel: The flavors of sumac and zatar are amazing. I'm sure phyllo can be used too, it'll create a crispy cigar roll!
Adriana: Thank you! I don't cook red meat a lot but my other half really like lamb. I have to be more creative.
Posted by PickYin, at Mar 8, 2012, 10:07:00 AM
I hope you haven't given up on this recipe. I've got it figured out because I'm an historic cook who does mostly 18th century over the fire cooking of food. I went back to the original translation, which calls for the lamb to be cut into strips, POUNDED with a cleaver, and BEATEN in a mortar with a pestle. These are all ancient techniques for making sausage and give a very different texture to the meat than our modern grinders. (Kind of like the difference between hot dogs and chunky sausage.) In addition, all sausage requires fat to hold it together, and our lamb is very lean. The job of holding it together therefore falls to the eggs. I had to use FOUR eggs before it held together well enough to make a patty. I also adjusted the seasonings because your version was almost tasteless to me. To one pound of lamb, I used 2 Tablespoons sumac, 4 Tablespoons dried mint, 1 teaspoon each of coriander, cumin and cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon white pepper. I reduced the nuts to 1/2 cup, and used probably 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice. Another difference from the originial recipes is that they called for water to COVER the meat, which you cook until all the water is absorsbed. I used about 2 1/2 cups of water all together. Your idea of the puff pastry was lovely and made a nice presentation. Hope this helps...
Posted by Mercy Ingraham, at Jan 15, 2013, 3:03:00 AM
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