Grilled lamb chops with lemon sauce

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Archaeologists can’t seem to agree on which was farmed first: sheep or goats. Judging from the wealth of recipes for lamb and mutton, my money is on sheep. Here’s a delicious lamb chop recipe with courgettes on the side.

Grilled lamb chops with lemon sauce
Try the chops medium-rare - and discover a whole new set of culinary truths. Photo: Lourens Reyneke

To make this meal for four people, you will need:

  • 4 to 8 lamb chops from the top of the leg
  • 500g courgettes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 2 lemons
  • 250ml plain yoghurt
  • Freshly ground cumin seeds (jeera)
  • Generous pinch of paprika
  • Salt and coarsely ground black pepper on demand
  • 2 cloves of garlic

This splendid variation on a classic meat dish breaks a few rules and challenges some historic expectations. Expectation number one is the firm belief – verging on dogma – that mint in vinegar is the only sauce that lamb requires. Expectation number two, not so firmly held, is that rare lamb is a mistake and must be immediately sent back to the kitchen. We begin. Add the cumin seeds to a clean, dry frying pan and bring the hob temperature to medium.

As soon as the seeds begin to brown, kill the heat and shake the frying pan to ensure even toasting. Turn the toasted cumin seeds into the grinder and reduce them to fine powder. Squeeze the lemons and reserve the juice. Decant the plain yoghurt into a mixing bowl and add two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Cut a section of English cucumber and dice it.
Add a third cup of diced cucumber to the mixture, plus a teaspoon or two of the freshly ground cumin. Stir together and reserve under cover for dishing-up time.

Now for the side dish. Top and tail the courgettes and slice them 5mm thick. Try to keep the thickness uniform as this allows for even cooking. Crush, peel and finely chop the garlic. Select a saucepan, add sufficient olive oil to thinly coat the interior base and bring this to medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and stir-fry for a minute or so. Add the slices of courgette, lower the heat a little and fit the lid. Sprinkle a little black pepper and let the courgettes cook for as long as it takes for them to become tender.

Season the lamb chops with a little salt and a generous amount of coarsely ground black pepper.

Grill them, turning the chops every 30 seconds to ensure a light brown crust. While tradition may say that well-done lamb was the law set by our ancestors, try the meat medium-rare and discover a whole new set of culinary truths. Dish up a chop (or two) per person, plus a serving of courgettes. Pour the lemon, cucumber and yoghurt sauce into a bowl, and sprinkle a pinch of paprika on the surface as a garnish. Invite the guests to spoon the sauce over the hot lamb chops.