By Michelle Perkins
While you are reading this chances are I am probably not sipping wine but knocking back something a little stronger after a lovely day wandering through the Hermitage, taking a step back in time with a trip to the winter palace, or maybe a cruise on the Neva river. Enough hints?
Have you guessed where this Fabulous Lady is right now? You’re right – I’m in the romantic city of St Petersburg in Russia!
On a whim the husband and I decided to go on an adventure and make a dream come true. So we jumped online and booked some tickets on the Trans-Mongolian railway.
Before we undertake this 7621km trip from Moscow to Beijing we are making a couple of stops along the way – Shanghai, St Petersburg and Moscow (watch this space for some Chinese inspired recipes).
To get a taste for what I might have when it comes to Russian cuisine I thought I would do a little research and I was quite surprised about some of the gems out there. Here I was thinking it would all be cabbage & potatoes!!
This fragrant stew will fill your house with enticing aromas that will have the family wandering into the kitchen asking what is cooking. Every time my husband poked his head in he just kept saying “that smells SOOO GOOD”! Enjoy!
WINE MATCH: Open a bottle of gutsy Cabernet Sauvignon, decant it, and leave it on the benchtop to aerate while you prepare this stew. (Oh, alright then, pour a glass for yourself first.)
Georgian Lamb Stew
500 g boneless lamb shoulder, cubed
650 g eggplant, cubed, unpeeled
5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
10 Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, pressed
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp khmeli-suneli spice mix (see explanation below)
Preheat the oven to 170 C. Heat a pot of water to a boil and keep warm. Warm some vegetable oil in a skillet and brown the lamb over high heat. Transfer the meat to a large oven-proof Dutch oven or earthenware pot. Add more oil to the skillet and add onion and pepper. Saute, stirring, until the onion is translucent and golden, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, red wine, bay leaves, black pepper, and khmeli-suneli mix. Stir, cover, and cook over low heat for 15 more minutes. Discard the bay leaves, transfer the sauce to the Dutch oven and arrange on top of the meat (but do not mix). Arrange a layer of potatoes on top of the sauce and finish with a layer of eggplants. Add enough boiling water to the pot to reach just below the top of the eggplants. Season with salt. Cover the pot and bake in the oven for 1 hour or until the potatoes are cooked through. Remove the lid and mix well, taking care not to crush the eggplant cubes. Serve with a garnish of fresh vegetables and herbs.
(I used a tablespoon of each, which made just about the perfect amount)
Combine equal amounts of ground coriander seeds, cloves, black pepper, fenugreek seeds, dried basil leaves, bay leaves, dried marjoram, savory, dried mint, hyssop, dried dill, and dried parsley. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
The resulting powder can be stored in a cool, dry place indefinitely. However, it is a good idea to pack it as airtight as possible, as it is highly fragrant.
Hint: if you can’t find Hyssop or Savoy replace with Sage and Thyme
(Image source: baronsfood.wordpress.com)