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Za’atar Lamb Cutlets with Courgette Tzatziki

by Ravinder Bhogal from Jikoni : Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from an Immigrant Kitchen (Bloomsbury)

Photography © Kristin Perers

Even on the rainiest days, this dish has all the flavour of a summer barbecue. It is also one of the many good reasons to buy a jar of za’atar, the versatile Middle Eastern spice mix bursting with bold, earthy flavours. Serve with a fresh green salad.

Serves 4


4 double lamb cutlets

Sea salt and black pepper

Za’atar, for sprinkling

For the marinade

100g yoghurt

25ml olive oil

3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

3 tsp za’atar

1½ tsp coriander seeds, toasted

1½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted

For the tzatziki

2 large courgettes, grated

500g Greek yoghurt

1 fat garlic clove, crushed

½ tsp ground cardamom

Handful of finely chopped mint

Juice of 1 lemon

Piece of lump charcoal – optional

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Sprinkle of cayenne pepper


First make the marinade by mixing together all the ingredients. Massage over the lamb, then set aside to marinate in the fridge for at least half an hour, but preferably overnight.

In the meantime, make the tzatziki. Put the grated courgette into a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes – this will draw excess liquid from the courgette to give it texture and crunch. Drain in a colander, using your hands to squeeze out as much liquid as possible, then return to the bowl. Add the yoghurt, garlic, cardamom, mint and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

If you want to smoke the tzatziki, which I would highly recommend, sit the piece of charcoal directly on a gas burner or barbecue, letting it catch light and burn. When it is smouldering and grey, use tongs to carefully transfer it to a small heatproof bowl. Nestle the bowl inside the bowl of tzatziki and drizzle a little oil over the charcoal – it will start smoking immediately. Cover the bowl tightly with foil and leave to smoke for half an hour, then take out the small bowl and discard the charcoal.

Drizzle the olive oil over the tzatziki and finish with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper. Refrigerate until needed.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas Mark 6. Heat a griddle pan over high heat, add the lamb and sear all over. Transfer to the oven and roast to your liking – 7 minutes for medium rare. Sprinkle with za’atar and serve with the tzatziki.

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