Nigel Slater’s spiced sesame lamb (with a few Americanizations)

Spiced sesame lamb

Nigel Slater’s Eat is a nice volume of mostly-quick meals. We picked up a copy in Britain. (It has not yet been released in the United States.) Another “in Britain” bonus was getting to view several episodes of Downton Abbey months before the American audience does. (Spoiler alert: Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, at times becomes discomfited by modern manners.)

Among the fun things for us about British cookbooks is the constant reminder that cooking terms are not nearly as universal as we’d like to think, and that we’re more American than we usually let on. Most people use Centigrade, but we’re more familiar with Fahrenheit. We consistently see “marrow” as the delicious stuff you crack bones to get, not a vegetable. And please, don’t get us started on “aluminium.”

Spiced sesame lamb

We first made these simple, mildly spicy patties in our rental house (that’s “holiday cottage” to you Brits), liking them so much we vowed to make them at home. Some parts of this recipe did not survive the trip across the Atlantic (Americans have access only to yogurt, not “yoghurt”) and some didn’t survive a first reading (we add grainy mustard in addition to Slater’s mustard seeds). Nonetheless, we find them quite enjoyable, easy and “savoury,” as Slater would say.


(adapted from Nigel Slater’s Eat)

  • 1 medium cucumber
  • Salt
  • 1 TB chopped mint
  • 4 TB yoghurt yogurt
  • 500g 1 lb. minced ground lamb
  • 1/2 TB mustard seeds
  • 1/2 TB grainy mustard
  • 4 TB sesame seeds
  • 2 scallions (or equivalent amount of shallot), chopped
  • 2 tsp. garam masala
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Peel, seed and dice cucumber. Put in a colander and salt well. Let drain for 15 minutes or so. Rinse, then dry on paper towels. Place cucumber in bowl and mix in mint and yoghurt yogurt. Cover and refrigerate.

Put lamb into a bowl. Add mustard seeds, grainy mustard, sesame seeds, scallions, garam masala, salt and pepper. Mix together, then divide into eight portions. Flatten the meat mix into patties about the thickness of a digestive biscuit cookie.

Heat some olive oil in a shallow, non-stick pan. Cook the patties over medium to high heat for 1-2 minutes on each side, until browned. Drain on paper towels.

Serve by topping patties with cucumber mixture.


        • That’s interesting. Now that you say it, I realize I’ve never seen him on TV. Despite my constant, obsessive watching of British TV every fall in France and England. (I admit: I’m missing Come Dine With Me, embarrassed I became addicted this year to the Location, Location thing and sorry I missed the end of the baking show…)

  1. perfect! I have lamb mince in the freezer (which i am always looking for recipes for) and will start another batch of Yoghurt when I get home.. I doggedly stick to all the spelling from NZ and try so hard to keep all the names and phrases alive in my writing. Batting off the americanisms and lazy spelling with a stick. Looks like this book is going to be a good one, i might look out for it. So much takes so long to be published over here.. c

  2. Loved your post 🙂
    You should see how some cookbooks are translated from American to French, or the other way around sometimes, not taking into account that some words might look the same from one language to another and yet mean something completely different. It’s quite funny sometimes. That’s why I prefer to get the original every time I can (same with any book in fact).
    The lamb looks very good, too!
    Oh and after two years spent in the US, I am still reluctant not to use the metric system 😉

    • For sure—even though my French n’est pas formidable, when in France, I always request the French menu. Otherwise, it’s just a guess what I’m ordering! Keep using the metric system, Carine. Someday we silly Americans will catch up. 🙂

  3. I have to admit I’m a sucker for a little Anglicisation (see?) but I applaud your Gourmandistani efforts at linguistic purity. Someone has to toe the line. 🙂

  4. This sounds like a delicious way to prepare lamb, Michelle. I’m not at all accustomed to these spices sued with lamb and would love to discover how they work together. Thanks for sharing the recpe.

  5. Very Indian-inspired! We have the same Fahrenheit vs Centigrade “problem” here in Quebec, and we say yogourt while the French from France say yaourt… but it is so much fun to discover new ways to cook from around the world 🙂 Beautiful pictures, once again…

  6. Pingback: The Lady Thing 10 Delicious Lamb Recipes - The Lady Thing

    • It’s hard to answer, Janet. It was a godsend when we were in a rental house with extremely iffy Internet and no cookbooks newer than 1890 or so. It’s a book full of really easy nice (and interesting) ideas. But could you get most of them from Slater’s guardian.com columns? Probably.

  7. Thanks for sharing this nice vacation recipe… and the extra lesson in English-vs-American spelling! wash´t even aware of some of the differences (e.g. ground vs mince….) really funny!

    • There are so many! I love language. And it’s really fun reading British, Canadian, Australian and other anglophone food blogs. I have learned so much. Wish that I was more adept with the non-English varieties. I can do OK with French and a little bit with other Romance languages. But, outside that, I’m totally lost!

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