See a woman amble aimlessly around a fashion store for hours on end and nobody bats an eyelid. Try doing the same thing in a supermarket, and security guards get downright twitchy. None of this picking up stuff, checking it out and putting it back. That’s OK for a dress, but apparently not for a bottle of pickles. But here’s the rub, I love aimlessly ambling in supermarkets and markets. Touching, sniffing, reading, seeing what’s new – it’s how I get recipe ideas.

Like the other day, when I spotted a bottle of Ras el Hanout spice in Woolies. A heady Moroccan blend of perfumed spices like coriander, cumin, cloves and cardamom, no two recipes for Ras el Hanout are the same. In Morocco every mama has her own secret blend. Not being a Moroccan mama, nor being inclined to blend my own, in my basket it went. Back home I marinated lamb steaks in a bit of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of the Ras el Hanout, then on the braai they went. I cooked them on the rare side of medium and arranged fat slices on a pretty platter. To complement the lamb, I made a mint sauce, but not mint sauce as you know it. I started with a sweet-sour chilli base, then grabbed a large handful of mint leaves and juicy raspberries. When I made it again, I sadly couldn’t find lamb steaks, but this recipe works just as well with lamb chops, though it’s obviously not as girlie pretty.

All you need is…

800g lamb steaks or small lamb chops
3 tbs olive oil
1½ tbs Ras el Hanout spice
salt
10 tbs white wine vinegar
5 tbs sugar
pinch of dried chilli flakes
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
8 raspberries

Rub the lamb with the olive oil and Ras el Hanout, cover and set aside in the fridge for at least an hour. In the meantime make the mint sauce. Combine the vinegar, chilli and sugar and boil, while stirring, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is syrupy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Chop the mint leaves and roughly squash the raspberries. Add them to the syrup and allow it to stand for a while for the flavours to blend. Salt the lamb and braai it to your liking (medium-rare to medium is my preference). Serve with the raspberry-mint sauce.

serves

4

prep

1 hr

cook

20 min

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tips, tricks and trivia

More spice options

I found the Ras El Hanout at Woolworths. They also stock a Harissa blend and a Moroccan spice blend. Either of these will work just as well with this recipe instead of the Ras El Hanout.

enjoy with

With lamb I’d normally pick a red like Shiraz. However I think the highly perfumed spices of the Ras El Hanout and the aromatic qualities of the mint and raspberry sauce are not ideally matched with red. The solution? A red that’s a white. Boschendal’s Blanc de Noir (literally white from black) consists of 50% Merlot, 15% Shiraz, 15% Cabernet en 15% Pinotage with the remaining 5% a mix of other red varietals. The juice is separated from the skins straight away and fermented without the skins, ensuring a delightfully pale pink wine instead of red.

It’s bursting with berry flavours – strawberry, raspberry and mulberry and has a touch of spice. Fruity and fresh, Boschendal’s Blanc de Noir is good value with a retail price around the R50 mark.

Bean There

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