Now this dish is a wonderful little piece. The meat can be used on it’s own as a main dish or as a side dish to be scooped up with bread , added to the center of couscous or rice. This also makes excellent sandwiches the day of being made or the next day when it’s a grab anything you can find to eat, stuff it into bread and go!
Meat with Sour Fruit and Mint in Bread
Take nice well done roast meat, as much as necessary, from the ribs and other parts, and pound it fine with the cleaver. Throw fresh mint leaves on it and, if you want, a little celery leaf. Sprinkle it with a little vinegar and lemon juice; and if you wish , put in the juice of salted lemons or of sour fruits instead of lemon juice; they are pounded with it (the meat). Flavour it with a little milled mastic and Chinese cinnamon and sprinkle it with good rose-water. Pound it exceedingly well until it becomes fine. Then take some brick oven bread, watched over as it baked in the oven and let it be in the shape of a tulma loaf, (flatbread baked in the tannur oven…a round or oblong bread with a raised rim, lice Central Asian nan.) …It should be well cooked, between dry and soft….Set it aside, then split it with the knife and stuff it well with the prepared roast, and cut it into thin pieces and arrange it in baking trays. Throw mint leaves on it. It is eaten right away and the following day.
(Arabic Cookery. Rodinson, pp. 382.)
2.5 lbs lamb (beef or venison) 2 Tbs olive oil
(Spice rub, 1 tsp in any combination coriander, cumin, cinnamon, black caraway seeds, cayenne pepper, thyme)
To be added after cooking:
1 finely chopped salted lemon 2 Tbs mint (dried) 2 tsp pomegranate juice
1 Tbs vinegar ¼ tsp rose-water 1 tsp cinnamon
The recipe calls for rib meat as a preference as this meat is fatty. A good substitute would be a brisket type of meat if rib meat is not available. I originally used 2.5 lbs of leg of lamb, which means the meat was a little dryer then would be preferred. (The second and third time I used this recipe I incorporated beef roasts.)
The lamb was cut into scallops the size of the palm of my hand and placed into a casserole dish which had been coated with olive oil and a little of the spice rub. The meat was then layered with spicing between each layer and a final dusting of spice on the top of the meat.
The meat is layered with spices another layer of meat then more spices until the meat and spices fill up the baking dish or you run out of meat.
You don’t hear this often in cooking but for many period Middle Eastern cooking, lean meat is not as good as a rich fatty pieces of meat, especially for this recipe. A little bit of sesame oil, olive oil etc would be an excellent addition to the cooking if only lean meat is available.
Once cooked the meat was allowed to cool before I chopped into small pieces. I probably did not chop the meat as fine as the original notations indicate; however I think the sizing was suitable for sandwich stuffing and finger food.
After the meat was sliced I then added the remaining ingredients to the meat, mixing well. When the meat and spices were completely mixed, pita bread (nan can be used) was split in half and stuffed.
A tasty treat or main meal.