I am a big fan of meatballs and this dish of lightly spiced lamb meatballs braised with peas, preserved lemon and dried figs is great for a sharing supper.
Sumac rice is the best accompaniment to these meatballs and is equally good with other lamb dishes.
Braised Lamb Meatballs, Sumac Rice
For the Meatballs: 750g Minced Lamb, 1 Small Onion (Finely Diced), Large Handful Parsley (Finely Chopped), 2 Garlic Cloves (Crushed), 3/4tsp Ground Allspice, 1/2tsp Ground Cinnamon, 75g Dried Cranberries, 1tsp Sea Salt, 1tsp Cracked Black Pepper, 1 Egg Yolk (Beaten), 200ml Vegetable Stock, 200g Freshly Shelled Peas, 2tsp Preserved Lemon Rind (Chopped), 3 Dried Figs (Finely Chopped), Large Handful Fresh Dill, Mint and Coriander (Chopped)
For the Rice: 300g Basmati Rice, 460ml Water, 25g Unsalted Butter, 2 Cinnamon Sticks, 3tsp Ground Sumac, 1tsp Sea Salt, 1tsp Cracked White Pepper
1) Combine the minced lamb with the onion, parsley, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, cranberries, sea salt, black pepper and egg yolk in a large bowl. Mix well with your hands until fully combined. Divide into equally sized meatballs.
2) Place a large, heavy based pot (a Le Creuset casserole is perfect) on the stove top over a medium heat. Cook the meatballs in a little neutral oil until well browned all over – around 10 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, peas, preserved lemon and figs to the pot, stirring well to combine with the meatballs. Bring the mixture to a simmer and braise the meatballs in the stock for around 10 minutes or until fully cooked and the peas are tender. When ready, add the fresh herbs and stir well to combine.
3) Meanwhile prepare the rice. Melt the butter in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the rice, cinnamon sticks and season with the salt and white pepper, stirring until fully coated in butter. Add the boiling water and turn the heat down low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat, remove the lid and cover with a thin tea towel before replacing the lid. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Before serving, stir through the ground sumac with a fork to fluff the rice.
4) Serve the meatballs and braising mixture with the sumac rice and a good spoonful of natural yogurt.