Posted by: lornasass | December 2, 2009

MOROCCAN LAMB AND LENTIL STEW WITH MINTED YOGURT

Cumin, cinnamon, and tart-sweet prunes give this exotic stew North African flavor.

Depending upon how much lamb you include, you can make either a lentil stew with lamb or a lamb stew with lentils. The eggplant dissolves into a puree that naps the lentils and thickens the sauce. Serve the stew on its own or accompanied by couscous or rice.

SERVES 4 AS A MAIN COURSE

12 MINUTES HIGH PRESSURE PLUS NATURAL PRESSURE RELEASE

1 tablespoon olive oil

1½ cups coarsely chopped onions

1½ teaspoons whole cumin seeds

2 cups water

1 cup dried brown lentils, picked over and rinsed

12 pitted prunes

1 to 2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks

1½ pounds eggplant, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to taste

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice

FOR THE MINTED YOGURT

½ cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons minced fresh mint or 1 teaspoon dried mint (you can empty a teabag.)

Heat the oil in a 6-quart or larger pressure cooker. Add the onions and cumin seeds and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Stir in the water, lentils, prunes, and lamb. Set the eggplant on top. Sprinkle with the salt and cinnamon.

Lock the lid in place. Over high heat bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat. Allow the pressure to come down naturally, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape.

Skim off any fat that rises to the top. Stir well to blend in the eggplant. Add more cinnamon and salt, if needed. Stir in the lemon zest and enough of the lemon juice to balance the sweetness of the prunes.

To prepare the Minted Yogurt, stir the yogurt and mint together. Serve each portion of stew with a generous dollop of Minted Yogurt on top.

Variations

Vegetarian Version: Decrease cumin to 1 teaspoon. Increase water to 3 cups and lentils to 1½ cups. Omit lamb. After cooking, stir in 1 teaspoon harissa (Moroccan chile paste) or a generous pinch of cayenne. Use fresh cilantro instead of mint in yogurt topping.

Transformation (Follow basic recipe except as noted)

Moroccan Chicken and Lentil Stew: Instead of lamb, use 3 to 4 pounds bone-in, skinned chicken parts. Cook for 8 minutes high pressure plus natural pressure release.

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