Persian lamb with pomegranate, pistachio and orange couscous

Preparation time: 25 minutes (plus 5 hours marinating time)
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Lamb has a special place in my heart, and I think nearly every mate of mine would have the same fond memories of cooking lamb on the back deck at my house when we were growing up. My old man loves it, and loves sharing it with all our friends. This is a lamb dish that I have given my own little twist. The beauty of the couscous salad is that it can be served warm or cold and it will impress no matter what. If figs are in season, you could substitute them for the fresh dates.

For the Persian marinade, whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Add the lamb to the marinade and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 5 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, using a sharp knife, cut the pomegranate in half. Over a large bowl, hit the back of one half with a wooden spoon — the seeds will fall out easily. Discard the shell and white pith. Squeeze the juice out of the other half — you’ll need 2 tablespoons.

For the couscous, bring the stock to the boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Transfer the boiling stock to a large heatproof bowl. Stir in the couscous and olive oil, cover with foil and stand for 5 minutes or until the stock has been absorbed. Fluff the couscous with a fork to separate the grains, then add the reserved pomegranate seeds and juice, the watercress, pistachios, dates and orange zest. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and stir to combine.

Preheat a lightly greased chargrill pan or barbecue chargrill plate to high.
Cook the lamb, turning frequently, for 2–3 minutes for medium or until cooked to your liking. The cooking time will also vary depending on the thickness of your lamb pieces. Rest the lamb for 5 minutes before slicing to serve.

Divide the couscous among serving plates and top with the


4 lamb backstraps, about 250 g
(9 oz) each, trimmed
1 pomegranate
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) chicken or vegetable stock
200 g (7 oz) couscous
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups (firmly packed) watercress
75 g (21/2 oz/1/2 cup) roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
115 g (4 oz/1/2 cup) fresh dates, halved, pitted and thinly sliced
zest of 1 orange
sea salt and freshly ground
black pepper
chargrilled flatbread and yoghurt, to serve (optional)

Persian marinade
2 garlic cloves, bruised
1 cm (1/2 inch) piece ginger,
finely grated
1 tablespoon unsprayed dried rose petals, coarsely chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil