Investigating Iraqi food: Khouzi, timman and aubergine salad

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Miranda’s Sandwich Woes. Regular readers of this blog may remember the trauma that ensued when we visited a newly-opened, local, independent café and received both terrible service and a terrible sandwich. Today, we went to an 11am screening of ‘Gone Girl’, and due to the half hour of cinematic advertising and film trailers we had to sit through before the film, it was 2pm by the time we came out, and we were a bit starving! This is the only explanation for the fact that we decided to trust a certain ubiquitous high street bakery chain to fill the holes in our stomachs.

Excited by the uncharacteristically ‘exotic’ options available, Miranda opted for a Moroccan vegetable flatbread. This NEW offering is advertised as being ‘chunky Moroccan style houmous, roasted vegetables, baby leaf spinach and spiced beetroot relish, all wrapped up in our new tasty flatbread’, which sounded like just the ticket for lunch on the go. Funnily enough, if the label had said ‘half a jar of slightly odd-tasting chutney, one piece of an unidentifiable vegetable that might be aubergine and a couple of green leaves, all wrapped up in our new tough and rubbery flatbread’, it wouldn’t have sounded as appealing but, sadly, would have been more accurate. How fitting that this new culinary invention was experienced after seeing ‘Gone Girl’, a film which proves that perspective is everything and that it’s very easy to put an erroneous spin on a story.

Fortunately, there was the memory of last night’s Iraqi khouzi alla timman (lamb shanks with rice) and aubergine salad to provide strength through this difficult time. Initial searches for this recipe proved problematic as we’re not really set up to cook an entire lamb in one go (though Ash would no doubt have enjoyed lugging one home from the butcher), and we didn’t have any baharat (Middle Eastern spice mix) on hand. We realised it was achievable, though, when we found we could make our own baharat (thank you, taste.com.au), and found a recipe for a scaled-down version of khouzi, using lamb shanks, on food.com, which we adapted slightly. The exact authenticity of both of these might be questionable, but it certainly gave us a ‘flavour’ of Iraqi cuisine. The aubergine salad (recipe by Pete Evans) may not be strictly Iraqi either, but it did go very well with the lamb, so we’ll include the recipe anyway. Continue reading

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