Harissa-spiced lamb eggplant and m’hamsa couscous

Credit: Thomas Schauer

Here we are with the warm flavors of the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean in a dish that takes you to the kebab shops in the souks of Istanbul, where wonderful aromas of grilled, spiced meat greet you.

The contrast in the recipe is in the double textures of eggplant—one that is roasted in the oven and blended with spice, olive oil, and lemon; and the other, which gets caramelized with honey and sherry vinegar for a bright, powerful aigre doux glaze. The large pearl couscous is the perfect bed to set the lamb, and absorb its juices.

There are sweet, tangy, and roasted notes here, perfectly complemented with a refreshing dressing of yogurt, cucumber, and mint.



Step 1: Lamb

Combine harissa spice mix and dried herbs with enough grapeseed oil to make a slurry. Brush onto the lamb and refrigerate overnight.

The main components of this dish can also be made as a kebab with other more affordable cuts of lamb such as leg or shoulder.

Step 2: Eggplant purée

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Slice 2 eggplants in half lengthwise and rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a baking sheet lined with aluminium foil, cut side down, and bake for 25 minutes, or until very tender. Remove from the oven, and when cool enough to handle, scrape away the flesh, and discard the skin.

Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the shallot and garlic. Sweat for 2  minutes, or until translucent, then add the cooked eggplant and spice mix. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the spices smell toasted.

Transfer contents to a blender. Purée with lemon juice and enough olive oil to make a smooth purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Step 3: Glazed eggplant

Slice remaining eggplants lengthwise into 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) thick slices.

Cut slices into at least 32 rectangles about 3-inch (7.5 cm) long and 1-inch (2.5 cm) wide. With a small knife, lightly score the flesh on both sides of the eggplant slices in a crosshatch pattern and season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add eggplant in a single layer (you may need to do this in batches) and sear until golden brown on both sides, about 1 minute each. Reduce heat to medium and add the sherry vinegar and honey. Bring to a simmer until reduced to a glaze. Set aside and repeat with remaining eggplant.

Step 4: Couscous

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until translucent. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous and spice and return to a boil.

Remove from the stove and cover with a lid. Rest for 7 minutes, and then fluff with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Step 5: Yogurt sauce

Toss the grated cucumber with 1 teaspoon of salt (6 g), and rest at room temperature for 10 minutes to extract the liquid. Squeeze dry and transfer to a small bowl, combine all ingredients and season to taste. Reserve, chilled until ready to serve.

Pre-salting and straining the cucumber for the mint sauce will prevent the juices from weeping into the yogurt.

Step 6: Lamb

When ready to serve, preheat a grill to medium-high heat. Grill the lamb on all sides to medium rare, about 5 to 8 minutes (130°F or 54.5°C). Remove from the grill and rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Step 7: Garnish and plating

For each serving, spread a spoonful of eggplant purée on the bottom of a plate. Place a spoonful of couscous adjacent, top with 4 pieces of the glazed eggplant and set sliced lamb on top. Sprinkle the lamb with fleur de sel. Scoop a spoonful of yogurt sauce onto the lamb, place a lavash cracker and sprig of mint on top.

This recipe was originally published in "My Best Daniel Boulud" (Éditions Alain Ducasse). See all credits