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Best Techniques & Spices for Cooking East African Style Lamb Cutlets & Couscous.

Updated on June 15, 2015

A Very Special Lamb Dish.

Spiced Lamb Cutlets.

The very best techniques for cooking famous spiced lamb cutlets and Couscous dishes : East African style, by Pearldiver. Oh Yum, Spiced Lamb Cutlets with Couscous! These have originally come from the small nation of Djibouti. A country of contrast situated at the junction of the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

A country of less than 9000 square miles, with a population of less than 500,000; Djibouti is made up of the blend of Arabic, French and Somali cultures. Djibouti has always been a trading nation, perfectly positioned to offer unique spices, culinary fusions and traditional dishes. As a main course dish; Spiced Lamb Cutlets and Couscous enhanced by the uniqueness of East African tastes and aromas; will provide your guests with a dining experience like no other. When eaten authentically; this dish is served on a single plate and eaten by hand. For the sake of dinner parties etc. the preparation here best suits the using of utensils; but don't be afraid to use your hands if they are clean.

If you are prepared to experiment; then you will find that the dishes here are very easy to make and look good enough to have your friends asking you how you learned a recipe like this. Don't tell them.. keep it a secret and keep them guessing. You do have to admit that this recipe does look quite complex and if you introduce others to this blend of spices and herbs, then they will soon sing your praise. So Enjoy this recipe and Enjoy the attention Chef....

A Place of multiple cultures and a fusion of wonderful foods.

Preparing the Ingredients.

The Dry Spice Ingredients Are:

1 Tablespoon of Ground Cumin

1 Tablespoon of Paprika

2 teaspoon of Oreganum

2 teaspoon of Garlic Powder

½ teaspoon of Rosemary

½ teaspoon of Chili Powder

½ teaspoon of Ground Coriander Seed

½ teaspoon of Ground Ginger

½ teaspoon of Cinnamon

1½ teaspoon of Brown Sugar

1 teaspoon of Salt

1 Pinch of Tumeric

Thoroughly mix all the dry ingredients above in a glass bowl. Once mixed place approximately half of this mixture into a sealable airtight plastic bag. Cover the remainder in the bowl and stand for later at room temperature.

Ingredients for the Couscous:

1 Cup of quick cooking Couscous

¼ Cup of Pine Nuts

¼ Cup of Chopped Almonds

¼ Cup of Diced Dry Apricots

¼ Cup of Chopped Fresh Coriander

¼ Cup of Dried Raisins or Sultanas

½ teaspoon of Ground Cumin

1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil

1 teaspoon of Grated Orange Zest

2 Cups of Chicken Stock that is at boiling temperature.

Ingredients for the Lamb Cutlets

8 Small – Medium Chined Lamb Cutlets:

1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon of Orange Juice (squeezed from the grated orange)

Other Ingredients (for garnishing):

¼ Cup of Chopped Fresh Mint.

250 grams of Plain Yogurt.

Sprigs of Fresh Coriander.


If I see it enough, I will make it!

I'm so pleased that this isn't a Beef Dish Pearldiver!
I'm so pleased that this isn't a Beef Dish Pearldiver!

Now: To Put it all Together.

Take the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir into that mix; 1 Tablespoon of Orange Juice along with the Tablespoon of Olive Oil. Make sure that you have enough fluid from this to turn the ingredients into a well mixed paste like consistency. Note: Add a little extra Olive Oil if required. Cover and stand this bowl again while you prepare the cutlets.

On the bench surface, take a clean plastic bag and place the cutlets individually inside the plastic as you are going to tenderize them. Make sure that other than the rib bone, there are no other bones or areas of fat on the cutlets. If so, cut it off and then with a rolling pin apply enough rolling pressure to flatten each cutlet out, without destroying its shape. Don’t be afraid to beat up the cutlets this way.

Now take the cutlets and immerse them into the paste of the spice mix in the bowl. Spoon any surplus spice paste over the cutlets so that they can marinade in the paste. Cover the bowl again and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Mix into a clean bowl the 250 grams of Yogurt and the ¼ cup of Chopped Mint. Mix these together well by stirring vigorously, as this tends to bruise the Mint and therefore release the sharpness of the taste into the Yogurt. Cover and place into the refrigerator to chill. You will use this as a garnish on the Couscous later.

Next task is to take a high sided frying pan and pour into it; the 2 Cups of blended Chicken Stock, stirring on a high heat to bring this to the boil. Take another fry pan, a dash of Olive Oil and stir in the Pine Nuts over a high heat; moving them in the pan, until browned in about 2 minutes. Then stand to cool in another bowl.

When the Pine Nuts are cool, add to them the Almonds and the grated Orange Zest. You will add this mix to the Couscous while it is soaking up the chicken stock mix.

Now into another heatproof glass bowl; pour in the cup of Couscous, the Diced Apricots, the Raisins or Sultanas, the Cumin and stir in the Olive Oil. Add to this the boiling Chicken Stock while stirring all the time, so that the Couscous is submerged in this liquid. Stir this through the Couscous, partially cover the bowl and stand for 10 minutes to allow the couscous to expand. Once all the liquid is gone, the couscous is ready, so add and stir in the Pine Nuts and mix as above. Just prior to serving, add the Chopped Coriander and stir it though.

While the Couscous is soaking up the fluids, it is time to cook the Lamb Cutlets. Using the fry pan that you roasted the Pine Nuts in, add a dash of Olive Oil and put the pan onto a very high heat. You really only want to sear the cutlets; so take them from the fridge and cook them in two batches if need be; making sure that the cutlets are placed into the pan with a good amount of spice marinade over them. Cook the cutlets on each side until they are lightly browned. This will take only about 1½ minutes per side; but you must be alert and not drift away, enveloped in the most wonderful, spicy aroma. Make sure that you sample taste and season if required; before serving.

Serve on warm plates (because while you were using the stove, you had placed the plates into the warmer). Spoon two piles of Couscous on each plate, add (with tongs) 3 or 4 Spiced Lamb Cutlets, standing them on their ends and secured by the stickiness of the Couscous. Garnish with a dollop or two of Mint Yogurt and a sprig of Coriander. Enjoy. You will Love Spiced Lamb Cutlets with Couscous and Minted Yogurt; this is an awesome East African dish that I have tweaked ever so slightly.

Bon Appetite.

Copyright © 2010 - 2015 Art of the Diver with all rights reserved.

Spiced Lamb Cutlets, Couscous & Minted Yogurt.

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So what did you think?

Note: Remember that you still have another mix of spices in an airtight sealed plastic bag. It does seem such a waste, not to use it… so… I hope you have enjoyed this recipe.

From Djibouti comes: Famous Spiced Lamb Cutlets and Couscous Dishes: East African Style. What did you think about this dish? This is relatively easy to prepare, make and gain a lasting impression from.  If you choose to dine in the traditional way, then don't trim the lamb and serve both the lamb and the couscous on a single large plate.  No cutlery to wash - just your hands, as this is eaten in your fingers in East Africa.  Enjoy. Thanks for reading.


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