These warmly spiced North African grilled lamb chops are sure to become a family favourite. The exotic spices complement the richness of the meat. Finish the plate with a simple green salad and a drizzle of unctuous tahini sauce for an easy meal that’s guaranteed to impress.
As the holiday season winds down and we all get back to work and school, there is inevitably a tinge of sadness.
In a few short days my oldest daughter will return to university overseas, and my son will soon follow. Thankfully, we still have two younger children at home.
However, we will all miss the eldest two. For the first time in forever, we will be sitting down to meals for four. Our table will certainly feel emptier.
Mercifully, we still have a few more weeks to share. So, the conviviality of the grill is the order of the day.
We are making the most of these last summer days with casual meals whose preparation and consumption are shared. Hopefully, cozy memories of cooking together around the fire will carry us through the coming months apart.
It’s incredible how fragrances and tastes can evoke powerful emotions. For instance, when I feel nostalgic, I crave warming spices. These are the seasonings that remind me of the years my husband and I have spent raising our children in South Africa, and Côte d’Ivoire, where diversity yields a rich panoply of flavours.
These warming spices recall a time when the kids were younger and the years seemed to stretch ahead of us indefinitely. Their aromas alone evoke a homey snapshot of a time when it seemed we’d all be together forever.
Of course, that’s the beauty of cooking — and of good food. A fragrance, or a taste transports you to another time and place. You immediately remember the company you were in, the wine you shared, and the conversation and laughter around the table.
So, I hope the taste memories we create as we wind down our family holiday will come back to my children — wherever they are in the world — and make them feel at home. I hope they’ll also help you create some homey taste memories of your own.
About the Recipe
South Africa produces some of the world’s finest lamb. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of biting into a succulent leg of Karoo lamb, you don’t know what you’re missing.
The Karoo is a semi-arid region of South Africa made up of wide expanses of grasslands. Thus, lamb from sheep raised in this region is imbued with a unique herby flavour that is unparalleled.
Karoo lamb is every bit as special as wine from the Champagne region of France or ham from Parma. So, if you live near a butcher who sells certified Karoo lamb, I highly recommend you seek it out. In a simple recipe such as this one, it will really shine.
Grilling Lamb Chops
North African grilled lamb chops are simple to prepare. However, great lamb is best served rare or medium rare. So, it will be easier to control the cooking if you start the chops on the cool side of the grill, then quickly sear them on the hot side when they are just shy of your desired doneness. For thorough guidance on perfectly grilled lamb chops, I highly recommend Joshua Bousel’s primer at Serious Eats.
In the meantime, I hope you and your family enjoy this recipe as much as mine does and that you use it to create some special memories around the braai. Bon appétit!
North African Grilled Lamb Chops with Tahini Sauce
These warmly spiced North African grilled lamb chops are sure to become a family favourite. The exotic spices complement the richness of the meat. Finish the plate with a simple green salad and a drizzle of unctuous tahini sauce for an easy meal that's guaranteed to impress.
- 1 kg (2 lb, 3 oz) lamb rib chops (about 12 rib chops)
- For the dry rub
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- For the tahini sauce
- 1/2 lemon, juice of (about 2 tablespoons)
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup water (approximately)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- Step 1 Combine the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. Then, rub the spice mixture over both sides of the lamb chops to coat. Set aside while you light the grill.
- Step 2 While the grill is heating, place the tahini sauce ingredients in a blender jug. Blend at high speed until the sauce is thoroughly combined. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. The sauce ought to be fluid. Add water, if necessary to achieve a fluid texture — like vinaigrette.
- Step 3 Once the grill is preheated, place the chops on the cool side of the grill. Cook until the meat reaches about 57º C (135º F). Then, transfer to direct heat and sear for a minute or two on each side. Remove the chops from the grill, tent with foil, and allow to rest 5 minutes.
- Step 4 Serve immediately with a drizzle of tahini sauce. If desired, you can also toss 4-5 cups of baby salad greens with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. This makes a delicious, light accompaniment to the meal.
In my experience the texture of tahini sauce can vary widely, depending on its freshness and on the brand. In making the sauce, you will want to adjust the water until you achieve a fluid consistency that allows you to drizzle it over the finished meat.
These lamb chops are also delicious prepared in a grill pan on the stove.