Moroccan Lamb with Couscous and Tzatziki

Lisa Howard – Luna Kitchen

There’s something magical and mysterious about the aromas that emanate from a market stall in Marrakesh, filled with spices and fresh herbs.

After travelling extensively throughout the Mediterranean, and being enticed to try foods from dubious street vendors plying anything from goat to calamari and tagines, I came home to my birthplace in Wairarapa to experiment with the flavours I’d fallen in love with overseas. This time, I’d be using New Zealand’s finest ingredients, like Silver Fern lamb backstraps, fresh herbs and Meyer lemons. The result has brought about a dish inspired by Morocco – one that customers have asked us never to take off the menu!


Lamb and Marinade

500g lamb backstrap
Large handful fresh mint
1 fresh chilli – deseeded if you don’t like it too spicy
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsps olive oil
Salt and pepper

Cut the lamb backstraps into 2cm cubes and place in a bowl. In a blender, combine all other ingredients of lamb marinade and whiz to a fine paste. Marinate lamb with the marinade for at least 1 hour, but you can leave for up to 24 hours covered in the refrigerator. The longer you leave the marinade on the lamb, the more tender and intense the flavour will become.

To cook the lamb, lightly oil a large frying pan on high heat until smoking. If you don’t have a large enough frying pan to make sure all lamb touches the surface of the pan, do it in batches. Turn heat of pan down to medium-to-high heat once lamb is in the pan and leave for no more than 1 minute, or until a nice brown crust forms on the bottom. Try not to turn the lamb too much. Once the bottom is browned, turn over, ensuring the other side browns. Only turn a few times to ensure an even cook. Meat should be seared all around, give a little when pressed, and be medium-rare. Total cooking time is no more than 2 and a half to 3 minutes.


Moroccan Couscous

1 cup ‘easy cook’ couscous
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp dried vegetable stock
Pinch of chilli flakes
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsps olive oil
1 tbsp currants
Ground black pepper
Handful fresh coriander – roughly chopped

Place all couscous ingredients, excluding boiling water and fresh coriander into a metal or heat resistant glass bowl. Pour over boiling water and stir with a fork. Cover couscous with cling wrap and leave to soak up liquid for half an hour. After half an hour, uncover and fluff up the couscous with a fork. Recover and refrigerate for 1 hour.


Tzatziki Dressing (optional)

1 cup Greek yogurt
1 telegraph cucumber, seeded, finely grated and drained
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp fresh dill chopped finely
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Cut cucumber in half, lengthways, and run a teaspoon down the middle to take out the seeds. Finely grate the cucumber and then leave in a colander to drain for half an hour. Press down on the grated cucumber to release as much liquid as possible, and turn into a bowl. Mix in all remaining ingredients and stir.

To serve:
After cooking, serve the lamb immediately on a bowl of the couscous, drizzle with the tzatziki dressing and garnish with a few fresh coriander leaves.


Wine Match

Paired with Luna Estate’s Pinot Noir, it’s a perfect match of freshness from the lemon and herbs, succulent tender lamb, and a hint of warmth from the garlic and chilli to keep the wine lengthened on the palate.