I came up with this recipe when I was in Wales, which produces some of the best lamb in the world. Ask your butcher for extra long lamb cutlets, untrimmed, so you have big Captain Caveman style chops to gnaw on. Marinate the lamb overnight if you can, to really intensify the flavours, which are inspired by the amazing Yemeni cooks I met in the old Tiger Bay community near the docks in Cardiff. Their community has been there for over 200 years, ever since the coal boom of the industrial revolution brought their ancestors to Wales. Their food hasn’t become famous in the same way other cuisines have. But it should have. It’s some of the most exciting food I’ve seen in a long time.
Pound the marinade spices, chillies and garlic to a paste using a pestle and mortar, add a good pinch of salt and pepper, then muddle in just enough olive oil to make the mixture nice and loose. Get a roasting tray, put in the cutlets and rub the marinade all over them. Cover with clingfilm and put into the fridge, or to one side if you’re cooking right away.
Now get all your little dips ready. Put the nuts, sesame seeds, cumin and a pinch of salt into a dry frying pan and toast for a few minutes, tossing occasionally. Once golden, tip them into the mortar and pound up a few times until fine and crunchy, then pour them into a little bowl. Coarsely grate the cucumber on a box grater, then transfer it to a bowl, squeezing out any excess liquid. Finely chop the mint and add it to the bowl with the yoghurt, a good pinch of salt and pepper, and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Stir, then put into a little bowl next to the toasted nuts.
Halve the tomatoes and rub each half, cut side down, on the finer side of the grater so you end up with a fresh tomato slurry. Discard the skins, then finely grate in half the chilli. Season with salt and pepper, stir in a squeeze of lemon juice, sprinkle over some coriander leaves, and crumble over a little feta. Have a taste, adjust if you want it a bit spicier, or saltier, then put it into a little bowl next to the other dips.
Heat a griddle pan on a high heat and cook the lamb cutlets for around 4 minutes on each side, standing them on their fatty sides for a minute or two extra to crisp up. Once they are sizzling and golden, they’re done. Pile them on a board, then get stuck in and encourage everyone to dunk the chops in the dips and some of the based up nuts. Lovely with flatbreads or rice.