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Tava - Cypriot Baked Lamb with Cumin and Tomatoes

I love the simple, aromatic cumin as the focus in this dish - it reminds me how less is more alot of the time and what wonderful, traditional, home cooking can be. You can substitute the root vegetables with whatever looks good in the shop – carrots, sweet potato etc. This dish is also great with veal.

“Personally, I love checking out mains that are simple and good. We don’t eat a lot of sweets, but that may change. Just made a good dish that my mum makes all the time, it is 'Tava', the recipe is based from Falling Cloudberries, it is a lamb dish with lots of cumin seeds and tomato. You should try it! It's really easy and delicious” - Bree Lipinksi.

Pictured: Tava, Cypriot Lamb with Cumin and Tomatoes, prepared for baking

1 kg leg of lamb, cut into chunks
2 red onions, chopped roughly
2 potatoes, chopped
1 small pumpkin, chopped
2 parsnip, chopped
4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 heaps tbsp ground cumin or cumin seeds
½ cup olive oil
4-5 ripe tomatoes, cut into thick slices
50g butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley for garnish
To serve
rice or couscous

Preheat oven to 180°C/355°F.

In a casserole dish or deep baking dish: add the onion, potato, pumpkin, parsnip and lamb - season well. Then add the parsley, cumin and olive oil and mix thoroughly – can be easiest with your hands.
Place the tomato slices on top in a single layer and season lightly with salt. Place dobs of butter over the top and pour 125ml/ ½ cup of water around the dish.

Cover with foil or the lid of the casserole dish and bake for 2 hours- basting with the pan juices every now and then.

After 2 hours the dish will be well cooked but there will be alot of juices and for flavour it is nice to brown the lamb a little. Therefore, remove the foil/lid and increase oven temperature to 200°C/400°F - cook for another 45 minutes, turning the lamb once or twice. You can vary this timing depending on how browned you like the dish and how much liquid you would like evaporated – only go so long as the dish doesn’t begin to burn.

Serve with rice or couscous.

Serves 4

Pictured: Home Grown Tomatoes