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Monday, Apr 27th


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Lamb and Chickpeas

David Darmanin finds the idea of keeping traditional recipes to oneself dangerous. He spills the beans on how it is done at Taverna Sugu with this brilliant recipe for lamb.

Lamb and Chickpeas


Main Ingredient Lamb
Preparation Time 2 hours
Cooking Time 90 minutes
Course Main
Recipe Serves 8
Recipe Type Traditional: Maltese
As serious a matter as food may be, traditional recipes are there to be shared. Some cooks may have a point in safeguarding extensive research and endless trials on specific recipes by keeping them all (or worse, parts of) to themselves, but I just cannot bring myself to agree with this approach.

You give some to take some – very much like the way we compiled Calciatori football figurine sticker albums in the 1980s.

The series of recipes I contribute to are merely interpretations of the way people ate in the past and should in no way be taken as dogma or single reference points as to how traditional recipes should be executed. Granted that I will not be including wasabi in a local 19th century recipe but with most traditional dishes, recipes are anything but written in stone. On the contrary, it is more than likely that there are many typical variants to one recipe. As long as ingredients blend well and were readily accessible in specific areas of Malta at the time, chances are that they were enjoyed by many a Maltese household in the past.

Haruf bic-cicri (lamb with chickpeas) is tajine-inspired, which suggests that the recipe has been around for hundreds of years. Local lamb is in season at the moment, and because its meat is so tender when bought fresh, my idea is to braise it rather than stew it (which is what I would do with New Zealand shanks).

You need:


3Kg varied cuts of fresh local lamb (ask your butcher to portion half a 6-7Kg lamb)

200g chickpeas

Coriander seeds

Cumin seeds

1 local red onion, finely chopped

¼ cup olive oil

1 litre fresh vegetable stock

Sea salt (preferably soft, Gozo salt would be ideal)


How :


Soak the chickpeas in water for four hours.

Rub your lamb cutlets with sea salt and cumin. Heat a large pan and brown the lamb in a little olive oil. Do not overcrowd, if need be, seal your meat in batches. When your cutlets are just short of being removed, toss the onions without letting them brown. Remove the meat. Use a small quantity of your vegetable stock to deglaze (removing the crust on the pan) if you like. Reserve the liquid.

Roast the coriander seeds in a separate heated pan.

Rinse well the soaked chickpeas.

Place the chickpeas in a large dish and pour just enough vegetable stock to cover them. Let your seared lamb stand on the chickpeas and pour the liquid reserved from deglazing on the lamb. Scatter the roasted coriander seeds onto your lovely-looking dish.

Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius, cover the lamb dish in foil and cook for 70-90 minutes, or until tender.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and Bob’s your uncle.

Shopping Tips
Buy local lamb. If you can source it from the north of the island you will buy it a lot cheaper directly from the farmers. Failing that the next best thing is Scottish Millers of Speyside lamb from Zammeats at Arkadia.


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