In the Muslim quarter of Xian, the capital of China's Shaanxi province, you find wonderful dishes fragrant with cinnamon and cumin, like this stir-fried minced lamb. Add as much chilli as you like, but err on the sparing side with the cinnamon.
- 2 tsp each cumin seeds and fennel seeds
- 800 gm coarsely minced lean lamb
- 1 cinnamon quill, broken in half
- ½ large onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- Large pinch of chilli flakes, or to taste
- 60 ml (¼ cup) soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar (see note)
- To serve: steamed rice, chilli oil (optional), pickled garlic (see note) and coriander
- 1Dry-roast cumin and fennel seeds in a small frying pan until fragrant (1-2 minutes), then crush with a mortar and pestle and set aside.
- 2Cook lamb with cinnamon in a frying pan until fat has rendered and lamb is starting to brown (8-10 minutes). Remove lamb with a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove fat from pan and return 2 tbsp to pan, add onion and fry over high heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and starting to caramelise (5-6 minutes). Stir in garlic, then add chilli flakes, soy sauce, vinegar and dry-roasted cumin and fennel seeds, stir to combine, then return lamb to pan and stir until well combined (1-2 minutes). Serve on rice topped with chilli oil, pickled garlic and coriander.