It was a lovely, sunny, warm Friday evening last weekend, which called for the trusty bucket bbq to be brought out of hiding. I remember lots of bbq's last year but we seem to have got to June without one this year strangely. So I invited a few friends round and welcomed them with cold fizzy wine and salty cashew nuts in the yarden (not quite a yard not quite a garden)...
This is by far my favourite bbq meal. Lamb shish kebabs with salads, sauces and toasted pittas. A spicy thick tomato sauce, a smoky aubergine yoghurt and a sweet cumin yoghurt. They all compliment each other perfectly, alongside the lamb and a simple chopped salad.
Prepare the chopped salad in advance, small cubes of cucumber, tomato and red onion, with a large handful of chopped flat leaf parsley. Seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Put the cubes of lamb into a big bowl, allowing enough for about 5 pieces per skewer. Add a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper, a teaspoon of finely chopped fresh rosemary and a pinch of allspice and leave to marinate until you are ready to grill.
The tomato sauce is made by sweating half an onion until soft, add a chopped clove of garlic, a pinch of chilli flakes and a tin of tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and add a teaspoon of caster sugar. Allow to simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes, until the sauce is thick sweet and spicy.
While the bbq is heating up you can put on the aubergine. It needs to char and smoke so it is perfect to pop it on when the bbq is still flaming and getting hot, before it is ready for any meat. Turn it now and again so it is blackened all over and soft all the way through. The smoky flavour that comes from cooking it this way is delicious. When it is ready take it off the BBQ and slice it open to allow it to cool. When it is cool enough to handle scoop out all of the soft insides into a bowl, avoiding the black charred skin. Chop the flesh finely and add 3 large tablespoons of yoghurt and the juice of half a lemon and mix it all up.
Finally put the lamb onto some wooden skewers that have soaked in water, to stop them burning. Grill on the bbq for about 5 minutes, until they are browned all over and still a bit pink in the middle. Add a big pile of pitta breads to the bbq while everyone is helping themselves to kebabs, sauces and salad. Remove when warm and toasted. The cool smokey aubergine yoghurt with the charred soft lamb is delicious. Pile a little bit of everything into a pitta and away you go....