Lamb Kebabs with Fennel and Preserved Lemon Relish

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I often make minced lamb kebabs like these, using a simple combination of flavourings. Non-negotiables include pul biber and Urfa chilli flakes (which I love for their mild heat and sun-roasted flavour), finely chopped parsley stalks and lots of garlic.

The ‘relish’ is basically a combination of very slowly cooked onions and fennel, which both caramelise over 45 minutes to an hour in the pan. I add some very finely chopped preserved lemon peel at the end and it transforms the mixture into something fragrant that makes a good accompaniment for grilled meats and seafood.

Basic Lamb Kebab Recipe (makes 6 small kebabs)

500g lamb mince
1 teaspoon ground cumin (toasted and freshly ground if possible)
1 teaspoon ground coriander (ditto)
Pinch cinnamon
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted and roughly crushed
1 tablespoon pul biber
2 teaspoons Urfa chilli flakes
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley stalks

Fennel and Preserved Lemon Relish (serves 6)

Oil, for cooking
Large slice of unsalted butter
2 bulbs fennel, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced
2 onions, trimmed and thinly sliced towards the root
About 1 tablespoon finely chopped dill
½ preserved lemon, rind only, finely chopped – use a whole one if the lemon is small
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

To serve

Flatbreads (see my floofy flatbread recipe here)
Natural yoghurt
Pickled chillies

Heat a generous splash of oil in a large frying pan and add the onion and fennel with a large pinch of salt. Cook gently on the lowest heat for around 45 minutes to an hour, stirring regularly. The vegetables should be a deep golden colour (darker than those in the picture above!)

Combine the minced lamb with all the other kebab ingredients and some salt and mix really well with your hands. Shape into 6 small log-shaped kebabs.

When the fennel and onions are nearly cooked, light a barbecue for indirect cooking (these could also be cooked under a hot grill or in a griddle pan).

Place the kebabs over direct heat and cook for around 5 minutes each side, or until just cooked through – they can be moved to the cooler side of the barbecue to finish cooking if you find they are causing too much flare up.

When the fennel and onions are very caramelised, add the preserved lemon rind, lemon juice, some more salt and the dill. Mix well and serve with the kebabs, flatbreads, yoghurt and pickled chillies.