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Posts Tagged ‘lamb’

Pistachio-Crusted Lamb

Posted by jwpiper on January 26, 2009

Some great restaurants you do research to find, others come on a recommendation. It’s the minority of good restaurants which you more or less stumble onto. After a conference in San Diego, Matt C. and Andy asked some randoms for a good restaurant. This is usually not advisable, but after some convincing that they liked good food, the got a strange and intriguing recommendation: an Afghan restaurant called Chopahn Restaurant.

I tagged along for the adventure and we were amazed at what we experienced. The dish which blew them all away, however, was the Shinwari Kebab – pistachio encrusted lamb chops in a roasted garlic sauce with grilled tomatoes, zucchini, and cardamom rice. Almost every trip I make to San Diego includes a dinner at Chopahn and every time I order the Shinwari Kebab. I’m told that this is a traditional dish which is made in a special clay/brick/or-something oven. I’ve yet to see or taste anything like it elsewhere.

I’ve come up with a recipe which has actually made me capable of going to San Diego without visiting Chopahn. After all, there are plenty of other meals which I can’t pass up in San Diego. This isn’t meant to be a replica of the meal by any means. Instead it incorporates the flavors and textures of the dish. An alternative preparation is to make a side of spiced rice and leave the cardamom out of the main dish. Given that I’m lazy, I usually go with the preparation below. I serve the meal with sauteed or grilled zucchini (or some related squash) on the side and usually break out a bottle of Layer Cake Shiraz.

The wine deserves a mention of its own. There’s so much going on with this $16 bottle, and it happens to be one of my favorite bottles. A real value on an under $20 bottle of wine. It brings an extreme level of complexity and the earthy, rich flavors complement the lamb excellently.

Pistachio-Crusted Lamb

2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 lbs lamb loin chops (4)
6 medium cloves garlic
pistachio topping
serves 2

Heat a heavy pan (I used a cast iron pan) on high.
Add oil.
Add garlic and salted lamb to sear.
Keep moving and flipping the garlic to cook without burning.
After 1-2 minutes, salt and flip the lamb.
While the lamb is searing, spread the pistachio topping onto the already cooked side of the lamb.
After a minute, transfer the pan under the broiler on high to brown the topping.
This will cook the lamb to rare, if a higher level of cookedness is desired, either sear longer or cook longer under the broiler.

The lamb can also be prepared on the grill in much the same way. Grilled zucchini is just incredible, so this method is preferred. The lamb should still be finished under a broiler so the topping doesn’t fall off.

Pistachio Crust

50g pistachios
5g cardamom (two pinches)
40g course ground mustard

Use a mortar and pestle to grind cardamom and pistachios separately.
Add mustard to the ground pistachios until a very thick paste is formed.
Add cardamom to taste.

The paste should have a taste strongly of pistachios with some mustard and a hint of cardamom.


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