Sunday 21 January 2018

Forkful's easy suppers: Leftover lamb pilaf

Leftover lamb pilaf. Photo: Mark Duggan .
Leftover lamb pilaf. Photo: Mark Duggan .

Aoife McElwain

Do you have plans to cook a leg or shoulder of lamb for Easter this weekend? I know I do, and I also know I'll be happy to have the leftovers for a speedy supper next week.

Some of the best lamb I've ever tasted was on Achill Island, courtesy of the Carvey Family. Their Achill Mountain Lamb are Mayo Blackface Mountain lambs raised on a natural diet of herbs, heathers, grasses, mosses and lichens. Their free-roaming existence and life on the side of wind-swept mountains means their meat is deeply flavourful. You can order their lamb, and find out the restaurant and butchers that the family supply, online (

Technically, a pilaf is a rice that is cooked in a seasoned broth. Being a speedy supper, this recipe is more of a cheat's pilaf.

I've cooked the rice using my tried and tested foolproof method. You throw everything in the pan and let it cook, covered. I think it's the five-minute steaming time that makes this recipe such a success. I use this method every time I reach for basmati, sometimes adapting or omitting the spices used in relation to the overall recipe.

I've included some lovely caramelised onions cooked with cumin to complement the lamb, and I've topped it all off with some natural yoghurt, pomegranate and mint.

The Persian-influenced flavours of this recipe make it really easy to enjoy lamb for a second day in a row.

Leftover lamb pilaf

Serves 2

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 25 minutes


175g of basmati rice

25g butter

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of turmeric

Cinnamon stick

250ml water

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 onion

Half a teaspoon of cumin seeds

6 large slices of leftover roast lamb

4 tablespoons of natural yoghurt

Half a pomegranate

Handful of fresh mint

Handful of almonds


1. Make the rice by placing the rice, butter, sugar, turmeric and cinnamon stick in a saucepan with 250ml of water. The water should be at room temperature. Bring to the boil and give everything a good mix before covering and simmer for 6 minutes. Remove from the heat, keep covered and leave to steam for 5 minutes. After 5 mins, fluff up with a fork and then leave covered in the warm saucepan until ready to serve.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Peel and finely slice the onion. Add the onion and the cumin seeds to the frying pan, and gently cook for 10 minutes, until the onion is golden and cooked through.

3. Add the leftover lamb slices to the frying pan with the onions so that they heat through. Before serving, you can shred or slice them into smaller pieces if you like.

4. Mix one tablespoon of water into the natural yoghurt, so that it has a runny consistency.

5. Remove the seeds from the pomegranate half. Finely chop the fresh mint. Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan.

6. Serve the rice topped with fried onions and leftover lamb slices. Drizzle with the natural yoghurt. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds, fresh mint and toasted almonds.

This week's storecupboard essential:

Cinnamon sticks: A jar of cinnamon sticks will keep in your cupboard for ages. I break them in half and throw them into rice dishes or meaty stews, to add fragrance rather than heat. I like the Austrian Sonnentor range of organic spices and dried herbs (

Irish Independent

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