Chermoula lamb chops

A new way with a classic Moroccan spice mix.

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The classic Moroccan spice blend chermoula is fiery, thanks to the inclusion of paprika and dried chillis, but balanced by the earthiness and depth of cumin, coriander and mint. Traditionally made up as a wet marinade, the dry spices are rounded out with lemon juice, olive oil and parsley.

Here I use a different approach, with no marinating required. I take the chermoula apart, starting with the dry spices and using them as a paste, then adding the parsley, in great quantities, and freshly squeezed lemon juice to the finished dish to both cool things down and brighten them up.

You can find the chermoula dry spice mix already made up in delis and at any good spice merchant. It’s also very easy to make your own, and if you want to go down that route I have included a DIY version for you below.

I cut double chops from a frenched rack of lamb to make this as I like their sturdiness and I can cook them fiercely while keeping them perfectly pink inside. You can use standard cutlets, if you like, but you'll need to reduce all the cooking times accordingly.

The perfect accompaniment is my luscious, cooling broad bean salad with mint, feta and lemon oil.


Chermoula lamb chops

 

For 2. 

2 tablespoons chermoula spice mix (see below)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 double lamb chops
1 lemon
½ cup parsley, finely chopped

Set your oven to 200°C (400°F).

In a small bowl, mix the chermoula spices with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Add just enough of a tablespoon of olive oil to make a thick but paintable paste.

Brush the chops all over with the chermoula paste.

Heat a thin film of olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the chops for two minutes a side, starting with the round side followed by the two flat sides.

Arrange the chops so they are sitting on the arch of the ribs. Put the pan in the oven and roast for 8 minutes. Remove and let them rest for at least 5 minutes.

Cover the flat side of the chop in finely chopped parsley and squeeze lemon juice over to serve.

Chermoula spice mix

 

1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon chilli flakes
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon turmeric

Combine all the spices in a small bowl and store in an airtight container.

Besides the recipe above, its other great (and somewhat more authentic) use is as a rub for barbecued fish. Simply coat a firm fish like monkfish, swordfish or salmon and sit it on a plate in the fridge for 30 minutes before searing on a hot barbecue or pan. Follow up with freshly ground black pepper, a sprinkling of sea salt, a squeeze of lemon juice and lots of finely chopped parsley.

You can also make a sensational dip with a tablespoon of this spice mix stirred through half a cup of natural Greek yoghurt.