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tajrish-lamb's heads

On 8 May I will be teaming up with Stevie Parle at the Dock Kitchen for a lamb nose to tail dinner. The evening will start with the acceptable face of offal: a welcome drink served with delicious chicken wings marinated in Aleppo pepper, allspice, Lebanese 7-spice mixture and cinnamon, lemon juice and olive oil and roasted in the restaurant’s tandur oven. For starters, we will offer a mini offal mezze: poached lamb’s tongues stuffed with pistachios and served on a bed of lemony mixed leaves and herbs (I learned the recipe at one of Aleppo’s best restaurants, Zmorod); lamb’s kidney baked inside a potato (I found the recipe in Ambrose Heath‘s Meat); and Jerusalem Mix bruschetta (Sami Tamimi gave me the recipe when I was writing Mediterranean Street Food, initially a sandwich, I have smartened it up into a bruschetta for the dinner).

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baby lamb-roasted 2 copy

Yesterday, I cooked two things I had never cooked before: a whole baby lamb and stuffed tripe (post coming up). If I’d wanted whole lambs in the past, I relied on Mohamed at Al Waha to provide them. And if I’d wanted stuffed tripe, there was my wonderful mother who never minded spending the time cleaning and stuffing both stomach and intestines whenever I visited. But my mother is far away and I wanted to roast my own lamb and stuff tripe, so, I took the plunge and prepared my own.

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offal-book cover copy

I still remember the day clearly. I was at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery and Tom Jaine had just beaten me to buying a beautiful tripiére at the bring & buy stand. We started talking about offal and I told him I was keen to write a book about it. Tom thought it was a great idea but I didn’t really do much about it until quite some time later when I got a call from my then agent to say she had a publisher wanting a book on offal and Tom, who she had approached to write it, said she should speak to me. Read more >


I have to say, I am very lucky. I have wonderful friends who I can stay with all over the world and just recently, I’ve been in Tehran, staying with my lovely friend, Nasrine Faghih. I didn’t expect Tehran to be an easy city but thanks to Nasrine and a charming young friend of hers, Ali who was my guide while I was there, I actually had a great time. Ali took me to lots of different places, including the big bazaar which I didn’t actually like much. It is nowhere near as magical as the souks of Aleppo and I much preferred Tajrish, the small bazaar near Nasrine’s home, which was way more exciting. Still the big bazaar was fun, and definitely worth visiting if only for people watching.


But what was far more interesting was the little cook-shop (called tabbakhi in Persian) just outside the main entrance to the bazaar, on the other side of the street, specializing in lamb’s heads and tripe. Some of you may know that I can’t resist offal ( I did after all write The Fifth Quarter) and as soon as I spotted the heads soaking in a large tub of broth, I dragged Ali inside.

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