- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 pounds lamb (preferably shoulder), trimmed of excess fat and¬†cut into 1¬Ĺ-inch pieces
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1¬Ĺ pounds chestnuts, fresh or frozen (defrosted)
- 1-2 tablespoons honey (optional)
This Tunisian dish, more commonly made with dried¬†chestnuts, is more to my taste with fresh and even frozen ones.¬†While Tunisia has been sympathetic to Western ideas, and although¬†it was subjected to a massive immigration of French and Italian¬†peasants when it became a French protectorate, it has sustained¬†Arab cooking in its most ancient form. This beautiful and fragrant¬†stew is an example.
- Fry the onion in the butter or oil until it begins to color. Add the¬†garlic and meat and turn to brown it all over. Add salt and pepper,¬†ginger, and cinnamon.
- Cover with water and simmer, covered, for¬†1¬Ĺ hours, or until the meat is very tender, adding water to keep it¬†only just covered and letting it reduce towards the end so that the¬†sauce is rich and unctuous.
- To peel the fresh chestnuts, make a slit on one side with a sharp,¬†pointed knife and cook under the broiler, turning them over once,¬†until they are browned and the skins come off easily. Peel them¬†when cool enough to handle but still hot.
- Fifteen minutes before¬†the end of cooking, add them to the meat and stir in the honey if¬†using. If using frozen chestnuts, defrost them thoroughly before¬†putting them into the stew, and simmer 10 minutes. Serve hot.