I made this today in memory of a great lunch I shared with a friend in Beirut recently; he took me to a place called Walima, that used to be located in a traditional old house, unfortunately demolished since; the homestyle restaurant had to move to a nearby location in a non-descript building; the cuisine however was still delicious and this was what I had ordered that day.
My version adds a lot of sumac to the minced meat and the yogurt sauce.
- 1 bag of frozen artichoke bottoms (about 9 per bag)
- 3/4 pound of ground lamb (400 g)
- 1 onion
- 3 or 4 garlic cloves
- 1 pound of yogurt (1/2 kilo)
- one egg
- 2 heaping tbsp of cornstarch
- 1/4 cup of sumac
- 1 cup of Basmati rice
- Unsalted butter for the rice and pine nuts (or olive oil)
- salt, a dash of nutmeg
- 1/4 cup of pine nuts
- Boil or steam the artichokes, following the directions on the package; don’t dump the water after the artichokes are tender, reserve about one cup. Place the pine nuts on a piece of foil and toast in a 300F oven for 5 minutes till golden, stirring them from time to time with a spoon and watching them to make sure they don’t brown.
- Cut the bottom of the artichokes in order to make them more steady on the dish. Place the boiled artichokes side by side on a rectangular oven-proof dish, tucking the pointed tips in between. Brown the lamb in a skillet and drain the fat out. Chop the onion and fry it too in a little fat or oil and mix it with the lamb. Sprinkle two tablespoons of sumac on the meat mixture, some nutmeg and salt to taste. Add 1/2 cup of water (can use artichoke water) on the meat mixture, cover the pan and let it simmer gently for a few minutes to cook the meat thoroughly.
- Stuff the artichokes with the meat and onion mixture.
- In a small skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil; add mashed garlic and fry for 10 seconds; add one tablespoon of sumac and stir.
- Place the yogurt and one egg on the stove in a saucepan; dissolve two heaping tablespoons of cornstarch in 1/2 cup of artichoke water and add to the yogurt; start stirring in the same direction for a few minutes over low heat until the yogurt steams, start to bubble up and its texture thickens noticeably.
- Remove from the heat and add the fried garlic and sumac to it, stirring to mix it well.
- Pour the yogurt over the artichokes, sprinkle with the pine nuts and serve with rice.
Any remaining ground meat and onion can be combined with the rice for a nice pilaf.