This recipe for tava was recommended to me by friend Georgia from Cyprus. Tava is a traditional roasted lamb stew seasoned with cumin. The ingredients are very simple and the cooking method is what gives the flavour. However, since I did not have the special clay dish, I had to make due with a casserole dish. An important part is turning up the heat and removing the cover towards the end. This allows the meat to brown while the sauce sizzles around it. The end result is very tender and tasty lamb. You can serve this dish with rice or potatoes. And it tastes just as good re-heated the next day.
When I visited Cyprus, I had a lamb dish called kleftiko, which is a marinated and slow-cooked lamb. Lamb is a very common meat in Cypriot and Greek cuisines. Although lamb can have a strong flavour, I think the taste is milder when it is roasted with spices. The other good point about this recipe for tava is that the preparation is very quick. Then, once it’s in the oven you can leave it to cook for hours and do other things. Your kitchen will have a lovely aroma and before you know it, the meal is ready.
500 g lamb
2-3 large onions
500 g very ripe tomatoes
2 tsp artisha (cumin)
salt to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 170C (about 350F)
First, make sure that you have a large baking dish or casserole, preferably with a cover. Next, cut the lamb into small pieces. Then peel and slice the onions. Cut the tomatoes into small pieces. Then put these three ingredients into the large baking dish. Season with artisha and salt. Then cover and cook in the oven for about two hours. Check halfway through and if the lamb is looking dry, then add some water. I did not need to add water, since the tomatoes were juicy.
Turn up the heat to 200C and then remove the cover. Cook the lamb for 20 more minutes. Finally, remove the dish from the oven and serve the stew hot with rice or potatoes.
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