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Cumin lamb skewers with preserved chillies

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for Cumin lamb skewers with preserved chillies

By Emma Knowles
  • Serves 6
  • 45 mins preparation
  • 30 mins cooking plus standing, marinating, pickling, resting
Cumin lamb skewers with preserved chillies
Cumin lamb skewers with preserved chillies

Lamb skewers spiced with cumin and chilli are commonly served by the Uyghur people of China's Xinjiang province, where they're often accompanied by lightly pickled cucumber and very sour yoghurt. Our version gets extra heat from preserved chillies - inspired by a similar accompaniment served at Neil Perry's Spice Temple. You'll need to begin this recipe 2 days ahead.


  • ½ onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 50 ml vegetable oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 60 ml pomegranate juice (see note) (¼ cup)
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 kg boneless lamb leg, trimmed, cut into 2cm cubes
  • To serve: thick plain yoghurt
Preserved chillies
  • 4 long red chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 30 gm sea salt flakes
Pickled cucumber
  • 90 ml rice vinegar
  • 30 ml Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 telegraph cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds removed, shredded lengthways into strips
Spring onion flatbread
  • 300 gm plain flour (2 cups)
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • For greasing: vegetable oil


  • 1
    For preserved chillies, process chilli, garlic and salt in a food processor until coarsely chopped, transfer to a container, cover and stand at room temperature for 2 days, then refrigerate until required.
  • 2
    Meanwhile, process onion and garlic in a small food processor until finely chopped, add oil and process to a paste. Add pomegranate juice, chilli and 2 tsp ground cumin, season to taste with salt and process to combine. Combine in a large bowl with lamb, stir to coat well and refrigerate to marinate (overnight).
  • 3
    For pickled cucumber, stir vinegar, wine and sugar in a bowl to dissolve sugar, add cucumber, toss to combine and refrigerate to lightly pickle (2-3 hours).
  • 4
    Meanwhile, for spring onion flatbread, combine flour, ½ tsp salt and 180ml water in a bowl, stir until smooth and combined, cover and stand to rest (1 hour). Halve dough, then roll out each piece on a lightly oiled surface to a 5mm-thick rectangle and scatter over the spring onion. Roll each into a long cylinder, then slice into 5 pieces. Roll out each piece to a rough 5mm-thick round and store on a piece of lightly oiled baking paper until required. Preheat the flat grill of a barbecue or a frying pan to medium-high heat. Drizzle with a little oil then cook in batches until bread puffs (1-2 minutes), turn and cook until lightly browned (1-2 minutes). Keep warm.
  • 5
    Preheat a barbecue or char-grill pan to high heat. Thread lamb pieces onto metal skewers (leave a little space in between so lamb can brown) and barbecue, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked to your liking (3-4 minutes for medium).
  • 6
    Combine remaining cumin with 1 tbsp sea salt flakes, scatter over lamb skewers and serve with preserved chillies, pickled cucumber, spring onion flatbread and yoghurt.


For pomegranate juice, remove seeds from pomegranate with a spoon, process in a food processor, then strain through a sieve. If pomegranates are unavailable, substitute shop-bought unsweetened pomegranate juice or lemon juice.
This recipe is from the January 2012 issue of
Drink Suggestion: Fruity young grenache rosé. Drink suggestion by Max Allen

  • Author: Emma Knowles