Lamb Khoresh with Roast Romano Peppers

Khoresh is an Iranian stew that I first came across in a tiny, very old Persian cook book that a friend picked up in Iran many years ago. Lamb, usually, is thickened with sloppy, soft onion and hauntingly flavoured with saffron. It is often made with fruit but this version has the sweetness of roasted Romano peppers. It’s colourful, easy to cook and mildly exotic. These stews are a favourite in my house, gentler than Moroccan tagine but equally interesting and variable. Serve with boiled basmati.

Serves 2, generously
Prep: 25 min
Cook: 60 min

2 large Romano red peppers
2 large onions
2 tbsp olive oil
very generous pinch saffron threads
250g lamb neck fillet
300ml light chicken stock
50g bunch flat leaf parsley
½ lemon

Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Place the peppers on a small roasting tin and bake for 20 minutes, by which time the skin should be puffy and blackened in places. Cook on for a few minutes if not. Transfer to a plate, cover with a stretch of clingfilm and leave to cool slightly. Meanwhile, halve, peel and chop the onion. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a spacious, lidded sauté/frying pan and stir in the onion with a generous pinch of salt. Cook over a medium heat and stir every so often, cooking for about 20 minutes until sloppy and slippery. Place the saffron in an egg cup or similar and moisten with a tablespoon of boiling water. Cut the lamb into slightly smaller than usual kebab pieces. Stir the lamb into the juicy onion and stir often as the pieces change colour. Add the saffron and simmer for a few minutes before adding the stock. Chop the bunch of parsley finely from the stalk end. Add half the bunch – the stalk end half – to the pot, stir whilst establishing a gently simmer. Cover and leave to cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Season the juices to taste with salt and simmer uncovered for a further 10 minutes or so until the meat is quite tender, the juices slightly reduced. Flake away the skin from the peppers, halve lengthways and swipe away the seeds. Slice across the peppers into chunky ribbons and stir them into the stew. Simmer for a few more minutes then just before serving, season the juices with a squeeze of lemon before stirring in the last of the parsley.