The star of this recipe is the pilpelchuma - a Libyan pepper and garlic condiment. A shining example of an ‘extra good thing’ as it is wonderfully versatile, adding heat and unctuousness to rice dishes, eggs, or in this case meat. You can sub out the chillies here for red pepper flakes if you prefer less heat. Double up the pilpelchuma recipe if you like, as it will keep in the fridge for a week.
4 lamb chops, preferably bone in (400g)
3 small heads of garlic
105ml olive oil
2 dried whole chipotle chillies, stems and seeds removed
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp caraway seeds
2 tsp sesame seeds
½ tsp Aleppo chilli
1 tsp paprika
150g thick set yoghurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp mint, roughly chopped
2 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbsp dill, roughly chopped
2 lebanese cucumbers (130g), peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes
50g grapes, sliced in half
1 shallot (40g), peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
¼ tsp sumac
Sea salt and black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
2. Start by making the pilpelchuma oil. Trim the top ⅛ off the garlic heads to reveal the cloves. Place the heads onto a piece of foil and season with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of oil. Tightly wrap them and roast for 40 minutes, until nicely softened and golden. Set aside to cool completely. Once cool, squish them to release the roasted cloves from their papery skins.
3. Meanwhile, place the chipotles in a dry frying pan over a medium high heat and toast for 30 seconds on each side until fragrant and waxy. Put into a heatproof bowl and cover with enough boiling water to fully submerge. Weigh the chillies down with a small saucer and leave to rehydrate for 20 minutes.
4. Add the cumin, caraway and sesame seeds to the frying pan and toast for 3 minutes until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a pestle and mortar, and coarsely crush them. Remove the chillies from the water, roughly chop and add to the pestle and mortar along with the roasted garlic, aleppo, paprika and ¼ teaspoon flaked salt. Work the ingredients into a loose paste, adding the butter and 30ml of oil. Place in a bowl and keep at room temperature.
5. In a large bowl, mix two tablespoons of the butter with the lamb chops and rub well. Leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes (If you are getting ahead of time, place it in the fridge for up to 48 hours and remove it 30 minutes ahead of cooking).
6. Place the yoghurt, tahini and one tablespoon of lemon juice in a mixing bowl and whisk together until fully incorporated. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.
7. Put the skillet pan over a medium-high heat. As the pan starts to heat up, use a pair of tongs to press the chops fat side down onto the pan and gently render the fat out for 3 minutes until it starts to crisp and caramelise. Remove from the pan and turn the heat to high. Grill the lamb chops for 3 minutes on each side until nicely charred. (This will take the chops to medium, cook for more or less time, depending on how you like them). Place on a tray to rest for 5 minutes.
8. In a small bowl, mix the remaining herb salad ingredients with ⅛ teaspoon of salt and the remaining ½ tablespoon of lemon juice.
9. To serve, remove the yoghurt from the fridge and spread over a large plate. Add the lamb chops and pour over their resting juices. Place the herb salad to one side and serve hot.