From tender slow roasts dripping with flavor to simple kefta with seasonal accompaniments, lamb is a constant feature on Shane Delia’s menus. The Melbourne chef behind kebab shop Biggie Smalls, elegant Middle Eastern fine-diner Maha in the CBD and host of SBS’s Spice Journey loves cooking with it. His lamb kefta dish – which is on the weekend lunch menu at Maha – is also one he prepares at home.

“I often cook on a Sunday and this is one of those dishes full of kitchen staples,” says Delia. “I’ve always got chickpeas, couscous and the spices – cumin, coriander, paprika – in my pantry. It’s a great one to prepare if you’ve got people coming over at short notice.”

The kefta recipe uses lamb mince and a stock-based sauce dotted with chickpeas and pearl couscous, made smoky and creamy with chargrilled eggplant. Despite its complex flavour, the dish doesn’t take long to prepare.

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“I love a good roast, but we don’t always have time for a slow roast,” says Delia. “This dish you can have on the table in an hour. It’s simple and rustic and full of flavour. My kids like to eat it, my wife likes to eat it and I like to eat it.”

The flavour combinations for this dish are “endless”, Delia says. Use chard and spinach instead of silverbeet and kale, or switch it up with vegetables such as tomatoes or zucchini for a summer version.

Delia says there are two keys to the shareability of this dish: it’s portable and reheats extremely well. “You might want to take it to work, maybe pay a colleague back for a favour by sharing it with them the next day – it’s the lunch that keeps on giving,” he says. “Just reheat the kefta and you’re away.”

This recipe requires 30 minutes’ preparation time, 30 minutes cooking time and serves four to six people.

Lamb Kefta, Smoked Eggplant and Almonds

Serves 4–6

Ingredients:

Kefta
600g lamb mince
10g coriander powder
10g flaked salt
10g chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

Sauce
30g butter
Olive oil
200g dry chickpeas, soaked and cooked
200g pearl couscous, blanched
1 tsp Red Aleppo pepper or paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander powder
2L lamb or vegetable stock
½ bunch silverbeet
2 eggplants, chargrilled and peeled ½ bunch cavolo nero (black cabbage) or kale
Lemon juice to taste
Salt to taste

Dressing
30g slivered or roughly chopped almonds
30g pomegranate seeds
5 sprigs parsley leaves, finely sliced
4 sprigs coriander leaves, finely sliced
100ml olive oil

Method
Place ingredients for kefta in a medium-sized bowl. Mix very well for 3–4 minutes. Roll into small balls and rest for at least 20 minutes.

Heat a medium-sized pot and sear the kefta until golden brown on all sides. Set aside for later. Place same pot back on heat, add the butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Saute the chickpeas, couscous, spices and salt for 1–2 minutes.

Put lamb back in pan. Add the stock and bring to boil. Simmer for 5 minutes or until stock has reduced by half. Add silverbeet, eggplant, cavolo nero and season with salt and lemon juice to taste. Place into serving dish and dress with almonds, pomegranate seeds, herbs and olive oil.

Tips

The key to this recipe is working the spices into the lamb to get the best flavour. This means getting hands on and massaging it through the meat with your fingers at least 20 minutes before cooking.

Make sure the kefta are browned off evenly all around to create a caramelised lamb flavour throughout the dish.

Instead of the silverbeet or kale, you can use any greens you come across in the supermarket such as fresh chard, spinach or cabbage.

Make this recipe gluten-free by using lentils or dried beans instead of couscous, or swapping the couscous for a side of rice.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Australian Lamb.