Secret Sauce

Harissa-Spiced Lamb by Daniel Boulud Kitchen


Reserve a table

From chef Daniel Boulud:

Here we are with the warm flavors of the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean in a dish that takes you to the kebab shops in the souks of Istanbul, where wonderful aromas of grilled spiced meat greet you.

The contrast in the recipe is the double textures of eggplant – one that is roasted in the oven and blended with spice, olive oil, and lemon; and the other, which gets caramelized with honey and sherry vinegar for a bright, powerful aigre doux glaze. The large pearl couscous is the perfect bed to set the lamb, and absorb its juices.

There are sweet, tangy, and roasted notes here, perfectly complemented with a refreshing dressing of yogurt, cucumber, and mint.


Spiced Lamb:

1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons harissa spice mix
½ teaspoon dried mint
½ teaspoon dried parsley
Grapeseed oil, as needed
1  lamb saddle, trimmed into 2 loins and 2 tenderloins

Eggplant Puree + Glazed Eggplant:

4 large eggplants, divided
Olive oil, as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
1 shallot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon harissa spice mix
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons honey

M’hamsa Couscous:

2 tablespoons olive oil
4  cloves garlic, chopped
2 pints chicken stock
2 pints m’hamsa couscous
2  pinches harissa spice mix
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Yogurt Sauce:

1 cup peeled, seeded and grated cucumber
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 cups thick Greek yogurt
4 cloves garlic, peeled, germ removed, and finely grated
4 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
Zest from 1 lemon, freshly grated

To Finish:

Fleur de sel
A few small pieces lavash cracker
½ cup mint leaves



To marinate the lamb: 

Combine the harissa spice mix, dried mint, and dried parsley with enough grapeseed oil to make a slurry. Brush onto the lamb and refrigerate overnight.

To make the eggplant purée:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Slice 2 eggplants in half lengthwise and rub with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, cut side down, and bake for 25 minutes, or until very tender. Remove from the oven, and when cool enough to handle, scrape away the flesh and discard the skin.

Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the shallot and garlic. Sweat for 2 minutes, or until translucent, then add the cooked eggplant and harissa spice mix. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the spices smell toasted. 

Transfer contents to a blender. Puree with the lemon juice and enough olive oil to make a smooth puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

To make the glazed eggplant:

Slice the remaining eggplants lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Cut slices into (at least 32) rectangles about 3-inches long and 1-inch wide.

With a small knife, lightly score the flesh on both sides of the eggplant slices in a crosshatch pattern and season them with salt and pepper.

Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add half of the eggplant in a single layer (you may need to do this in batches) and sear until golden brown on both sides, about 1 minute each. Reduce heat to medium and add the sherry vinegar and honey. Bring to a simmer until reduced to a glaze. Set aside and repeat with remaining eggplant.

To make the couscous:

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until translucent. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous and spice and return to a boil. Remove from the stove and cover with a lid. Rest for 7 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

To make the yogurt sauce:

Toss the grated cucumber with 1 teaspoon salt, and rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, to extract the liquid. Squeeze dry and transfer to a small bowl, combine all ingredients and season to taste. Reserve, chilled until ready to serve.

To cook the lamb:

When ready to serve, preheat a grill to medium-high heat; lightly brush the grates with oil. 

Grill the lamb on all sides until medium rare (130°F with a meat thermometer), about 5 to 8 minutes total. Remove from the grill and rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

To plate + serve:

For each serving, spread a spoonful of eggplant purée on the bottom of a plate. Place a spoonful of couscous adjacent, top with four pieces of the glazed eggplant, and set slices of lamb on top. Sprinkle the lamb with fleur de sel. Scoop a spoonful of yogurt sauce onto the lamb, and place a lavash cracker and sprig of mint on top.

Serves 8.


Pro Tips

  1. The main components of this dish can also be made as a kebab with other more affordable cuts of lamb such as leg or shoulder.
  2. Pre-salting and straining the cucumber for the mint sauce will prevent the juices from weeping into the yogurt.