Skoudehkaris (Djibouti Lamb and Rice)
Yay! Another one-pot meal. This one’s from Djibouti, a small country right where the Gulf of Aden meets the Red Sea. It was a French colony by treaty from 1883-1977, so there’s a fair amount of influence on the food. This dish is no exception, being far more delicately flavored than a lot of the stuff I’ve been cooking lately. Some call it their “national dish” and if it’s true I can see why.
- 1 pound cheap lamb
- 1 large red onion
- 2-3 tomatoes (approx 1 to 1-1/2 pounds)
- 2 tbsp niter kibbeh (recipe) or clarified butter (ghee)
- Whole cloves
- Cayenne pepper
- Black pepper
- Basmati rice
Prep work: There’s not a lot to this one. In separate bowls:
- De-bone and cube the lamb (save the bones)
- Slice the onions into strips, and cube the tomatoes
- Rinse a proud 1/2 cup of rice.
Begin by melting the niter kibbeh in a karahi or dutch oven (maybe a high-sided pan) on high and brown the lamb, bones and all. Once browned, remove the meat cubes & bones, and put in the onions. Saute until the strings are soft.
Add the lamb back in, along with the tomatoes. Season with 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp cardamom, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and two whole cloves. Stir-fry for 4-5 minutes until the juice starts coming out of the tomatoes.
Cover with water, and bring to a boil. Lower the temps, cover, and simmer for 40-45 minutes. Add a little water if it starts to dry out.
Next, remove the bones and add the rice. Add enough water to cover again, plus 1/4 inch or so. Bring back to a simmer, cover and let go for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.
Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Bowls work best.