Lamb Biryani and Cabernet Franc

Lamb Biryani

For the upcoming Jan 26th feast lamb is the choice de jour, and thanks to the suggestion from the team at The sector7g experience it’s Lamb Biryani time.

We’ve had this recipe from Persiana previously to great success, so it’s no hardship to break it out again. No photos as yet, we will document properly on the day.

Serves 6-8


  • vegetable oil – although we’ll use olive oil
  • 6 large onions
  • 800g lamb neck fillets cut into 2.5 cm pieces
  • 1 tbsp green cardamom pods
  • 6 black cardamom pods
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 200g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp ground sea salt flakes
  • 600g basmati rice
  • 2 pinches saffron threads
  • 125g butter


Preheat a large saucepan and add 250ml of olive oil. Chop 4 of the onions in half and thinly slice into 5mm half moons. Fry the onion slices in the oil (the oil should just cover them), stirring every few minutes until they are golden brown and crispy. Remove the onions and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper and set aside.

Pour out the oil, leaving just enough to coat the base of the saucepan. Dice the remaining two onions and fry them over medium high heat until translucent. Add the diced lamb and sear it until it begins to turn brown. Put in the black and green cardamom pods, bay leaves, turmeric, cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks and mix well. Pour in just enough water to barely cover the meat and cook the lamb for about 1.5 hours until just tender. Leave to cool. Once cooled add the yoghurt to the lamb, stir well and set aside.

Fill a large saucepan with boiling water and add the rice with a generous handful of crumbled sea salt. Boil for 6-8 minutes until the rice is parboiled. The grains will change from a dullish white to a more brilliant white, while becoming slightly elongated and begin to soften.

Drain the rice and rinse it immediately under cold running water to wash off all the excess starch until it is cool. Line the bottom of the saucepan with non-stick baking paper and set aside.

Add 2 tbsp of boiling water to a small cup. Grind the saffron with a mortar and pestle and pour over the boiling water and leave to infuse.

Back to the rice, using the paper lined saucepan pour in a generous drizzle of oil and a couple of knobs of butter. Add 1 tablespoon of sea salt flakes. Scatter in enough rice to cover the base of the pan with a good layer, add a drizzle of the saffron water over this layer of rice. Take the yoghurt marinated pre-cooked lamb and devide it into two portions. Layer one portion over the rice, then cover with a thin layer of rice, sprinkle over some more saffron water, then add a generous layer of crispy onions and dot more butter on top. Repeat the layers until the rice, lamb, crispy onion and butter are all used up.

Wrap the pan lid in a tea towel, cover the pan and cook the rice on the lowest temperature possible on gas, or low medium with electric, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.

When ready to serve, either flip the rice on a serving dish or decant onto a serving platter. Scape the crispy tahdig from the base of the pan and serve it onto the top of the rice.

And to go with it we have a Cabernet Franc from our winetasting excursion at Squitchy Lane in the Yarra Valley

Squitchy Lane Reserve Cabernet Franc, Yarra Valley AUS, 2019, $45, 9/10


Lamb Shank, Black Garlic and Tomato Tagine with Gamay Noir

Lamb Shank, Black Garlic and Tomato Tagine.

Today we return to Persiana to try the Lamb Shanks which were amongst the recipes that had this book calling to us. After the success of the Shirazi Salad naturally our hopes were high for the shanks.

Serves 4

Shanks a cooking


olive oil
2 Large Onions, diced
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
6 lamb shanks
sea salt and black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
2 x 400g cans of tomatoes
6 large tomatoes halved
4 tbsp syrupy balsamic vinegar
2 black garlic bulbs, cloves peeled


In a large saucepan add a some olive oil and fry the onions over medium heat for a couple of minutes before adding the dry spices and the lamb shanks. Brown the lamb shanks on all sides then fold the onion and spice mixture over them again and season with the sea salt and black pepper.

Add the bay leaves, thyme, canned and fresh tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, then pour in enough water to cover the meat. Reduce the heat to low-medium, place a lid on the saucepan and cook for two hours, stirring every 30 minutes to prevent sticking.

We weren’t sure what black garlic bulbs were, nor did we have any. So we took two normal garlic bulbs, peeled the cloves and fried them separately in olive oil until lightly browned.

Once cooked, add the soft black garlic cloves, stirring them into the sauce. Add a little more weater to the saucepan if needed. Taste the tagine and adjust the seasoning if required., then cook the shanks for a further hour without the lid on before serving.

We served ours on a bed of potato mash with some sprigs of parsley.

And the taste? I’m going to use words in a futile attempt to do justice to the taste. In the process of the shanks slowly cooking they absorbed the amazingly rich tomato flavour deep within them and the sauce was a richly flavoured thick broth. The best shanks I can remember having had anywhere, any place.

And to go with it we tried our first Gamay Noir, and its rich flavour did a stirling job of accompanying the Tagine.

Vinoque Gamay Noir, Yarra Valley AUS, , $25, 8/10


Shiraz Cab and a new cookbook

So on Saturday we wandered down to Hawthorn and Readings bookshop and after an hour or so we emerged with a new cookbook Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour. Our Sunday tradition is that my son and I cook dinner together so Sunday morning was spent going through the book to find something yummy. Actually to be fair it was more of deciding which of the many yummys we were actually going to cook. After sadly noting that the fridge was bare of lamb shanks and chicken we decided upon a salmon main and a salad.

The book is lovely and one of its upsides is it will force us to travel far afield in search of ingredients we haven’t tried before. Our chosen recipes with sumac, pomegranate and dried rose petals sounded deliciously exotic. However dried rose petals was a bridge too far for a Sunday evening shop so we had to do a poor substitute and the salmon dish did suffer for it. Luckily our local supermarket Maxis was able to provide pomegranates and the Shirazi salad was beyond delicious.`

Shirazi Salad

Serving 4-6


  • 1 cucumber
  • 6 ripe vine tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • olive oil
  • sea salt flakes
  • black pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 heaped tsp of sumac
  • 200g pomegranate seeds


  • Dice the cucumbers and the tomatoes.
  • Add them to the salad bowl
  • Finely dice the red onions and add them to the salad bowl
  • Drizzle olive oil over the ingredients, season with sea salt and black pepper
  • Add the lemon juice and mix.
  • Sprinkle over the sumac and the pomegranate seeds, pop into the refrigerator and served chilled

The Tokar Estate was fair but didn’t quite match up to the brilliance of the salad.
Tokar Estate Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley AUS, 2011, $23, 7/10

I’m loving this cookbook so far and I’m looking forward to trying more recipes! I see Lamb Shanks in my future.


On Holidays with Oysters and Sparkling

IMG_2502Some days all that you need is Oysters Kirkpatrick and a nice sparkling. This was one of those days and Blue Pyrenees Luna was the sparkling.

Blue Pyrenees Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, Pyrenees AUS, NV, $23, 7/10


Blue Pyrenees Winery

Wine Tasting at Squitchy Lane

Squitchy Lane Winery

Squitchy Lane Winery – Our host Rob in action.

On a lovely sunny Sunday with nothing but a couple of friends and a well stocked picnic we ventured forth to the perils of the Yarra Valley. The aim of this trip was Squitchy Lane winery.

Squitchy Lane Winery

Squitchy Lane Winery with Mike at the old school cellar door.

The last time we visited the wine tasting room were still under construction and the cellar door was a trestle table out the front.

This time with the tasting room fully completed we ventured inside to the decidedly more solid bar to find a combination of white and red on tasting ranging from a Fume Blanc to a Cabernet Sauvignon. Missing from the tasting was their SQL label which they have retired to focus on a smaller range of wines.

After much deliberation…

  1. Squitchy Lane Fume Blanc, Yarra Valley AUS, 2013, $32, 7/10
  2. Squitchy Lane Chardonnay, Yarra Valley AUS, 2012, $34, 7/10
  3. Squitchy Lane Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley AUS, 2013, $35, 8/10
  4. Squitchy Lane Cabernet Merlot, Yarra Valley AUS, 2010, $26, 7/10
  5. Squitchy Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, Yarra Valley AUS, 2012, $35, 8/10
  6. Squitchy Lane Peter's Block Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley AUS, 2013, $55, 9/10

The award winning wine for the day was the Peter’s Block Pinot Noir which showed excellent Pinosity, which became the word of the day.

The standard Pinot followed us home that night and performed stirling service matched with our homemade tomato chilli cream prawns.

Squitchy Lane Winery Website

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From @Squitchyman Darth Pinot

Mac Forbes tasting at Olinda Cellars

Wines 001-2

Friday Night wine tasting at Olinda Cellars, and an offer was a selection of wines from Mac Forbes of the Yarra Valley. Having previously tasted and loved the Mac Forbes Rs 16 Riesling I was very keen to try others in the range.
As an added bonus the wine maker himself, Mac, was there to talk us through his wines, his winemaking and the philosophy behind it.

The wines on offer from Mac Forbes included:

  1. Mac Forbes Rs16 Riesling, Yarra Valley AUS, 2013, $32, 9/10
  2. Mac Forbes Chardonnay, Yarra Valley AUS, 2012, $34, 7/10
  3. Mac Forbes Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley AUS, 2013, $32, 8/10
  4. Mac Forbes Gruyere Syrah, Yarra Valley AUS, 2010, $36, 7/10
  5. Mac Forbes Hugh Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Yarra Valley AUS, 2011, $56, 9/10

Wines 002

Mac, winemaker for Mac Forbes ,is in the foreground. Ross the proprietor of Olinda Cellars is in the background

There were two stand-outs, the Rs16 Rielsing which we both loved, picked early then monitored during fermentation until it hit their desired sugar levels. Just a delightful sweet flavour filled Riesling.
The other was the Hugh, a sophisticated balanced Yarra Valley Cab Sauv, with a nod at the great Bordeaux wines, and with a cellaring time that Mac assured us should be in excess of 20 years.


Duck Pizza and aged NZ Pinot

Duck Pizza with Green Tomato, Cardamom and Ginger Jam

Duck Pizza with Green Tomato, Cardamom and Ginger Jam

Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck.
Now that that is out of the way.. When we were in Adelaide we got to know a brilliant organic pizza restaurant called Good Life Pizza and while we were renovating our house we got to know the staff and the menu there extremely well. One of the dishes we have made an effort to recreate is their Duck Pizza. It should be world famous and we are doing our part in bringing it to its earned glory.

Pizza such as this needs to be shared, however with pizza such as this you can’t invite just any old riff raff, so after much deliberation we invited two dear friends of ours who just happened to have a pair of bottles of aged Carrick Central Otago NZ Pinot Noir. It was a hard decision but at heart we are softies and we let them come along with their wine.

Wine List

  1. Carrick Pinot Noir, Central Otago NZ, 2006, $35, 8/10
  2. Carrick Pinot Noir, Central Otago NZ, 2005, $35, 7/10

Recipe: Green Tomato, Cardamom and Ginger Jam


  • 2kg green tomatoes
  • 4 1/3 cups superfine sugar
  • Juice (and zest) of two small lemons
  • 6-8 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 1/4 cup fresh ginger, finely minced


Cut tomatoes into wedges. Remove juice, seeds and the white center parts, then roughly chop the remaining tomato flesh.
In a large bowl, combine the tomato pieces, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight to macerate.
The next day, pour the tomato mixture into a preserving pan together with the cardamom and ginger (if you don’t have a preserving pan, a wide heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan will do just as well – I used my big Lagostina saute pan, and it worked a treat). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour back into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight once more.
The third day, return the mixture to the preserving pan and bring to a boil, skimming if necessary. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 10 minutes, check the set – if it’s still quite runny, continue cooking, checking the set every 2-3 minutes until it reaches the proper consistency. Remove the cardamom pods, then pour jam into sterilized jars immediately and seal (or for small batches, just refrigerate).

Sourced from Crumb Blog

For More Information

Good Life Pizza

Movida-Rustica Spanish Tapas and Rockford Wines

Movida Rustica

Movida Rustica

 Dinner Party Aphorisms

Dinner parties give rise to a number of aphorisms, here are a couple

  • Dinner parties are a wonderful excuse to find out what is lurking in the bottom of the cellar.

They are the greatest excuse to bring out that bottle of aged yumminess and share it with an appreciative audience. Of course to properly choose which of the denizens of the cellar will come into the light you need to know what meal it is going with.

Which leads to the second of our aphorisms…

  • Dinner parties are a wonderful reason to try out a new cookbook.

A captive and willing audience and a brand new cookbook, a great combination!

For our cookbook we had recently purchased “Movida Rustica” by Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish, Spanish Traditions and Recipes. It is a beautiful book in itself, as well as a great cookbook. and served as the starting point for our dinner party planning.


Tapas was the theme and we had a couple of dishes in the book that had to make it onto the table. After much deliberation our final menu consisted of:

  1. Adobo de Pollo
    • Chicken Skewers marinated with Paprika and Oregano
  2. Picadillo de Atun
    • Pan-fried tuna with Smoky Paprika
  3. Churrasco
    • Grilled Pork Loin, with sides of Salsa Verde and Salsa de Piquillo
  4. Arroz con Trompetas de la Muerte
    • Rice with Mild Mushrooms

Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 2005

Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 2005

Naturally a menu like that needs some quality wine to match it…

Wine List

And to go with it some aged red wines ferreted out from the bottom of the cellar/wardrobe in the back room, a pair of Shiraz’s

  1. Rockford Basket Press Shiraz, Barossa AUS, 2003, $35, 9/10
  2. Rockford Black Sparkling Shiraz, Barossa AUS, 2002, $35, 9/10

Recipe: Adobe de Pollo

Serving size: Makes 12 tapas, or 6 portions


  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) skinless chicken
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) virgin olive oil


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge overnight.

Thread the chicken meat onto skewers. Heat a barbecue plate to high. Cook the chicken skewers for 5 minutes, or until coAllow to cool slightly then serve.


For More Information

Movida Rustica can be found at:
Movida Rustica:Spanish Traditions & Recipes
Rockford Wines
Rockford Wines, Barossa Valley AUS

Winetasting at Cape Jaffa


On a holiday in South Australia on the Great Ocean Road we revisited one of those lovely off the beaten track winery finds.

In this case Cape Jaffa Wines on the Limestone Coast, which we had visited a number of years earlier, and now returned to renew our acquaintance.
The previous trip we had been passing through on a Great Ocean Road trip from Adelaide to Melbourne, this time we were spending a week based at Robe in perfect visiting distance of Cape Jaffa.

The winery itself is tucked away off the Southern Ports Highway in a gentle rolling grazing district. The cellar door is a lovely rock building situated on a rise with views out over the countryside. Outside are picnicking and bbq facilities while inside on the summer days we visited was cool and inviting.

The wine list was 10 wines long on the day we dropped by with an even mix of white and red, with half of the wines being certified biodynamic. The quality overall is high, from 7 to 8 on our scale, with the stand out being the La Lune Shiraz. As always our budget couldn’t meet our tastebuds however we still headed off with a 1/2 dozen mix, and the usual regret a year later that we should have bought more.

On our days tasting at Cape Jaffa wines averaged 7 out of 10

Highlights included:

  • Cape Jaffa La Lune Shiraz, Limestone Coast, 2010, $45, 8/10
  • Cape Jaffa Pinot Gris, 2011, $24, 8/10
  • Cape Jaffa Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008, $24, 7/10

Cape Jaffa Wines Website

The review list for Cape Jaffa

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Tasting Night at Olinda Cellars

Deep in the hills outside Melbourne lies the township of Olinda and there you will find an excellent wineshop by the name of Olinda Cellars. We have been going there for a while now of a Friday Night to purchase from their excellent selection an end of week beer and a Friday Night Pinot to have with dinner. So when I heard they were doing a wine-tasting, and it was Pinot it wasn’t a particularly hard decision. And since it was Friday night after a long week there could only be one response. “What Time?”

olinda 2

So 10 past 5 sees me wandering in the door to be greeted by 6 bottles of Pinot Noir ranging from $20 to $40, and for those not of the red dispensation a range of chardonnay was also on offer.

Our hosts, Ross and Jenny, started us off with a tipple from the Nolan Winery priced at $20 and we continued from there.

Highlights included:

  • 2012 Nolan Pinot Noir,Yarra Valley AUS , $20 7/10
    • A good quaffing Pinot, especially at the price.
  • 2012 Lansdowne Vineyard Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills AUS, $40 8/10
    • A big Pinot
  • 2012 Brownes Block Pinot Noir, Kilmore AUS, $40 8/10
    • This needs food, specifically a big steak, although duck would work equally well.

After the Pinot’s I decided to try one of the chardonnay’s, specifically the one to which one of our fellow samplers had let out a little ‘wow’. Oh, well that was yummy, one of the tastiest chards I have had. Noting of course that my exposure is limited. However at $60 a bottle I don’t think we will be purchasing a large number of them

  • 2012 Golden Ball La-Vas Chardonnay, Beechworth AUS, $60 8/10
    • Close to the first Chardonnay I would happily drink a bottle of, light and fresh.

Tastings at Olinda Cellars

Tastings are Friday Nights 5-8pm, occasionally a small charge may apply.
Olinda Cellars

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