Harissa is one of Morocco’s great gifts to the culinary world. Teamed with ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice blend, you have a punchy meat rub with only two ingredients. For the quick midweek dinner lover, this is the most time-efficient flavour booster ever.
- 2 tbsp harissa paste (see Note)
- 2 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
- 1 tbsp ras el hanout (see Note)
- juice and finely grated rind of 2 lemons
- 1½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 360 g lamb back straps
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup wholemeal couscous
- 2 tbsp currants
- 2 tbsp lightly toasted, chopped pistachios
- ⅓ cup mint leaves, torn, plus extra to serve
- 1 lemon, peeled and segmented
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Combine the harissa paste, mint, ras el hanout, lemon rind and 2 teaspoons each of olive oil and lemon juice in a bowl. Divide the sauce in half. Add the lamb to one half, season to taste and massage well into the flesh. Set aside for 15 minutes to marinate.
For the couscous, combine the olive oil and 125 ml (½ cup) boiling water. Place couscous in a bowl and pour over the water. Stir with a fork for 30 seconds, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Remove the plastic wrap, pour over reserved lemon juice and fluff with a fork. Add currants, pistachios, lemon segments and mint leaves just before serving. Season to taste and mix to combine.
Preheat an oven grill to high. Place the lamb under the grill and cook for 3–3 ½ minutes on each side until caramelised, but still pink in the middle. Rest for 5 minutes before slicing thickly.
Divide couscous and lamb between plates, scatter with extra mint leaves and serve with the remaining harissa sauce.
• Harissa paste is available in a tube in the international section of some supermarkets and from delicatessens. If unavailable, use a mild chilli paste and increase the ras el hanout to 3–4 teaspoons.
• Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend available from quality spice merchants.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers.
Square chopping board from The White Home.