I use herbs and spices a lot in my cooking, possibly sometimes a little too much I suppose, but then I was brought up with food that always had some sort of flavouring added. Even a plain fried pork chop would have dried oregano added to it. Our Cypriot bread has mahlepi and masticha in it – the inner part of the cherry stone and the resin from the mastic tree.
My mum used to make afelia – pork in red wine, flavoured heavily with crushed coriander seeds – and I loved the taste, though I did spend ages picking out the seeds. I’m not a great fan of bits in my food, so I will tend to use ground spices, or larger pieces that can easily be spotted.
This dish was inspired in part by watching back to back episodes of The Incredible Spice Men and absolutely loving it, and in part by my own love of spice. Not heat so much, I can only take a bit of zing, nothing more, but spicy does not have to equal hot.
Also, I found French trimmed lamb chops on the reduced shelf from Tesco, with a proper amount of fat on them.
There is another dish in Cyprus called Hirino Spithkasimo – home-style pork – and that uses cinnamon and cumin as its spice flavours, so I drew on that for inspiration.
And here we are.
6 small lamb chops (trim some of the fat if you really must but it keeps the meat moist and tender)
2 fat cloves garlic
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp sea salt
Crush the garlic in a pestle and mortar with the sea salt, mix in the cumin and cinnamon and enough oil to make a paste.
Pour that over the chops, massage in and leave for an hour or more if you want.
Heat a griddle pan to smoking and place the chops in, fat side down first. I cooked them for about 5 minutes.
I then covered the wooden handle in double layered foil, laid the chops flat, and stuck the whole thing on the oven on about 170C for 1/2 an hour.
Served with steamed broccoli, it was just a perfect dinner.