Curried Lamb and Apricot Kebabs
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    Serves 6 as a main course
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I like a good barbecue or ‘braai’ as we call this cooking method in South Africa. Arguably the weather is good for a large proportion of the year there, hence they have truly mastered the art of successful barbecuing. This recipe is my version of the South-African classic lamb dish called Sosaties, meaning lamb on a skewer (or kebabs). Traditionally, Sosaties are made with fatty shoulder and leg of lamb meat that is cubed and then marinated in a rich, thick, fruit-based curry marinade for up to 3 days. However, if you can’t wait that long, marinate the meat overnight and hope for the best.

There is a predominantly Cape Malay influence in the history of the traditional cookery of Cape Town. Malay is the ‘name’ given to immigrants that came to South Africa from North Africa, Malaysia and anywhere in between. These immigrants made Cape Town their home and over the years, they gradually merged their different cooking styles, resulting in the classic Cape Malay cooking style and traditions as we know them today. Sosaties is one of those adapted Cape Malay-influenced dishes that has been passed on from generation to generation.

I always make a good-sized batch of the marinade, then put some in a sealed jar and keep it in the fridge. It forms the perfect base for my homemade curries, and a tablespoon stirred in with cooked chicken and crème fraîche, makes a lovely coronation chicken sandwich too!

You will need to start this recipe at least 2 days before you want to serve it. photo of Lamb Kebabs

Ingredients & Method

For the curry marinade

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon mild Madras curry powder
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 2 fresh red chillies, chopped
  • 175ml cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 150g peach or mango chutney
  • 150ml cold water
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the lamb kebabs

  • 600g shoulder of lamb (boned weight)
  • 200g Curry Marinade (see above)
  • 12 large ready-to-eat dried apricots
  • 12 fresh bay leaves

First, make the marinade. Put the coriander seeds and cloves in a small pan and lightly toast over a low heat for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and then crush using a pestle and mortar, along with the ground spices, garlic, a small splash of olive oil and salt and pepper, mixing well.

Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and sauté the onions and celery over a high heat for 7–8 minutes or until golden brown. Add the bay leaf, sugar and chillies and sauté for a further 2 minutes. Add the cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce to the pan and let the liquid bubble, stirring and scraping the base of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze it. Boil rapidly over a high heat for 6–8 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and thickened to a syrup.

Add the chutney and water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, then cover and cook the marinade for about 30 minutes or until thickened and glossy, stirring occasionally to prevent the marinade from catching.

Remove from the heat and remove and discard the bay leaf. Use a stick blender to pulse-blend the marinade until it forms a spreadable paste – it’s your choice if you want a smooth or a slightly coarse marinade. Transfer the marinade to a suitable container and let it cool, then cover and chill in the fridge for at least 24 hours before use, to let the flavours blend and develop.

Make the kebabs. Remove the excess fat and sinew from the lamb, then roughly cut the lamb into large cubes (I work on using about 6 pieces of lamb per skewer). Measure the quantity of marinade needed and then mix the diced lamb with the marinade in a bowl. Transfer the lamb and marinade to an airtight container and chill in the fridge for at least 1 day before cooking, or for up to 3 days for maximum taste.

Soak 6 bamboo skewers in cold water about 30 minutes before you are ready to assemble the kebabs. Preheat the barbecue, preheat a griddle pan on the hob or preheat the grill, when you are ready to cook the kebabs.

For each kebab, skewer 2 pieces of marinated lamb with 1 dried apricot and a bay leaf, then skewer 2 more pieces of lamb, another dried apricot and another bay leaf, then finish with 2 more pieces of lamb. Repeat with the remaining pieces of marinated lamb, dried apricots and bay leaves to make the 6 kebabs.

Cook the kebabs on the barbecue over medium-hot coals or medium heat for 10–12 minutes or until the lamb is caramelised on the outside but is still pink on the inside, turning regularly. Alternatively, cook the kebabs on a hot, ridged griddle pan over a high heat for about 6 minutes on each side, turning regularly, or cook them under a preheated medium grill for about 6 minutes on each side, turning occasionally.

Remove the kebabs from the heat and leave to rest in a warm place for about 6 minutes before serving. Serve with salads of your choice.

Cook’s Note

Store the leftover marinade in a sealed, sterilised jar in the fridge and use within 1 month. Once opened, keep refrigerated and use within 1 week.