If you’re looking to light up the coals this Easter weekend, take inspiration from the masters of the flames at Middle Eastern grill house, Berber & Q.
Chefs Josh Katz and Mattia Bianchi cook over live fire because it makes food taste better – the pair are all about honest cooking with “loud colours and big, bold flavours”.
Thinking of shunning the classic sausage and burger combo when you dust off your BBQ? These three mouthwatering recipes – two meat dishes and a knock-out veggie plate – will tantalise those tastebuds, impress guests and really hit the spot.
Barbecued cumin lamb chops with anchovy butter
- ½ onion, finely grated
- 2 tbsp full-fat natural yoghurt
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- tbsp olive oil
- tbsp lemon juice
- 12 whole lamb chops, best end
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp caraway seeds
- ½ tsp coarse ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- tbsp smoked paprika
- 80g unsalted butter
- garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 10 anchovies in olive oil, finely chopped
- tbsp picked lemon thyme leaves
Mix the onion, yoghurt, cumin, olive oil and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the lamb chops and use your hands to massage the marinade into the meat, ensuring that each chop is well coated. Leave to marinate covered in the fridge for a minimum of two hours, or preferably overnight.
Place the cumin and caraway seeds in a heavy-based pan. Toast over medium- high heat until smoking and fragrant but not burnt. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl, adding the pepper, sugar, salt and paprika. Stir to combine, then blend the spice mix to a powder using a spice or coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle. Set aside or store in an airtight container for up to 10 days.
Melt the butter in a small frying pan over medium-low heat, then add the garlic and fry to soften for a few minutes (being careful not to burn it). Whisk the butter gently as it cooks, until it darkens to a nut-brown, about 4–5 minutes, then add the lemon juice, anchovies and lemon thyme. Continue to cook for a few minutes before turning off the heat. Set aside, reheating when ready to serve.
To finish the lamb chops:
Set a barbecue up for single-zone, direct grilling – ensuring that you are cooking on hot embers. Scrape off the excess marinade, dredge the chops in the rub and place on the grill rack directly above the coals. Cook for 2–3 minutes on each side, until nicely charred around the edges, the fat crisped and golden, but still soft to the touch and pink on the inside.
Remove from the grill and transfer to a bowl. Toss with any remaining rub and the parsley. Pile the chops on a plate and serve piping hot, with lemon yoghurt (optional) spooned over, anchovy butter and more parsley.
Cauliflower shawarma with pomegranate, pine nuts and rose
For the shawarma-spiced butter:
- 40g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1½ tbsp finely chopped coriander
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp ground sumac
- 1½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- pinch of ground cardamom
- 100g tahini paste
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
- 1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
- 100ml iced water
- 4 tbsp tahina Sauce
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1½ tbsp pine nuts, toasted
- 1 small green chilli, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
- 1 tsp dried rose petals
- 1 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- extra virgin olive oil (optional)
For the shawarma-spiced butter:
Combine all the ingredients in a stand mixer and mix using the paddle attachment. In the absence of a mixer, whisk in a large bowl until thoroughly incorporated. The butter should be aerated, slightly stiff and one colour (as opposed to streaked). Set aside until needed. It can be kept in the fridge for several weeks, but must be brought to room temperature before being used.
Trim some of the outer cauliflower leaves, but leave some stragglers behind – they taste delicious and look great when burnt and crisped.
Set a large saucepan of salted water on high heat and cover with a lid so as to bring the water up to the boil. Once the water is boiling, gently lower the cauliflower into the pan, being careful not to let it drop from a height and thereby avoiding the potential of burning yourself with the splash-back of boiling water, which nobody wants, least of all you.
Bring the water back to the boil, then turn the heat down to medium so the water has a gentle roll. The intention is to par-cook the cauliflower before finishing it in the oven or on the barbecue. It should be removed from the water when tender to a knife, yet retain some resistance – ‘al dente’, as they say. It’s important not to overcook the cauliflower. Much like pasta or a lovely piece of steak, cauliflower doesn’t like being cooked for too long. We’ve found it to take 7 minutes from when the water comes back to the boil.
Set the cauliflower on a cooling rack over a roasting tray and allow to drip-dry. Brush liberally all over with the spiced butter and, where possible, try and get beneath the floret canopy to reach the inner sections. Retain some of the butter for brushing at a later stage. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Pour the tahini paste into a bowl and add the lemon juice and garlic (if using). Gradually whisk in the iced water, bit by bit, as you pour. The tahini will thicken at first to a very coarse paste, but will loosen to form a thick sauce with the consistency of honey as you add more of the iced water. Season with salt to taste. Alternatively, you can blitz the tahini in a food processor or whisk together using a stand mixer, adding the water gradually to combine.
To finish the cauliflower:
Preheat the oven to its highest setting (240°C/220°C Fan/Gas mark 9) and blast the cauliflower for 5–7 minutes, until blackened all over. (You want it to lightly char, not to form an acrid burnt crust.) Once sufficiently oven-roasted, transfer it to finish on the barbecue for a few minutes (if you have one going) for a final hit of smokiness, basting it periodically with any leftover butter.
Transfer to a serving plate. Spoon over the tahina sauce and pomegranate molasses, and finish by sprinkling over the pine nuts, green chilli, pomegranate seeds, rose petals and parsley. A drizzle of olive oil adds a nice glossy finish. Serve immediately – the cauliflower tastes so much better when hot.
Buttermilk chicken shish kebab with quick lemon pickle and oregano
For the buttermilk chicken shish:
- 100ml buttermilk
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp hot red pepper paste (biber salcasi)
- grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp coarse ground black pepper
- ½ onion, sliced
- 8 chicken thighs, deboned, skinned and quartered
- 2 green pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
- 2 red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
- red onion, peeled and quartered
- 4 thin metal skewers, approximately 40–45cm long
- pitas or flatbread
- tbsp olive oil, plus extra to brush
- 1 tbsp thinly sliced spring onion
- 1 tbsp picked oregano leaves
- 12 Confit Garlic Cloves (page 260)
- 1 tbsp Quick-preserved Lemon
For the buttermilk chicken shish:
Put the buttermilk, spices, garlic, oil, hot red pepper paste, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper and onion in a bowl and stir together to combine.
Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and massage the mixture into the chicken to ensure it’s evenly distributed and well coated. Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge for 4–6 hours or preferably overnight.
Skewer the chicken pieces intermittently with the red and green pepper and the red onion.
Set a barbecue up for single-zone, direct grilling – ensuring that you are cooking on medium-hot embers. Grill the skewers directly over the burning coals, turning frequently to ensure both sides are well coloured and the chicken is cooked all the way through when checked with a knife (or to an internal temperature of 70°C or above when probed with a thermometer).
Brush the pitas or flatbreads with a little olive oil mixed with a few drops of water, and warm through briefly on the grill. They can be placed directly on top of the skewers if there isn’t sufficient room in the barbecue.
Remove the pitas and transfer to a serving platter. Place the skewered chicken thighs atop, brushed with olive oil. Scatter the spring onion and oregano leaves liberally over the skewers, along with the confit garlic cloves and lemon pickle.
This kebab is great served with garlic sauce, Middle Eastern Slaw and pickles of choice.
Recipes extracted from Berber & Q by Josh Katz (Ebury Press, £25) Photography by James Murphy.