Yuvarlama (lamb, chickpea, dumpling and yoghurt stew)

Yuvarlama (lamb, chickpea, dumpling and yoghurt stew)

By 9 March, 2016

This very delicious recipe comes from Aylin Oney Tan's "A Taste of Sun & Fire: Gaziantep Cookery". Yuvarlama is a marvellous combination of textures and flavours and is the favourite dish of Gaziantep, a city on the Turkish/Syrian border. On the 3-day 'bayram' at the end Ramadan it is served in every home, rich or poor. Aylin points out that rolling the tiny ground rice dumplings is easier and more enjoyable when family members get together to share the work. The dish is usually accompanied by rice pilaf with vermicelli.



Two ingredients need to be prepared the night before: 1) wash the rice and leave it in a strainer to dry; 2) pick over the chickpeas then soak them in plenty of water.
The next day, wash the meat, drain, and bring to the boil with 5 -6 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt. When it begins to boil, skim the surface using a perforated spoon, then add the pre-soaked and drained chickpeas.  Cover and cook the meat and chickpeas until both are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
While the meat and chickpeas are cooking, prepare the rice dumplings.
Mix the rice and minced meat  with black pepper and salt, and put the mixture through a meat mincer twice, or use a food processor. Knead the mixture for a few minutes until it is a smooth soft paste.  Lightly oil your palms and roll small pieces of the mixture into tiny balls the size of chickpeas.
Add the balls to the stew and cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat the egg with the strained yoghurt (for a smoother blend, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil) and pour into a small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring constantly in one direction, occasionally adding spoonfuls of boiling cooking liquid from the stew. When the yoghurt rises to a froth, stir it into the stew and remove from the heat.
Heat 2 tablespoonfuls of butter or olive oil in a small pan.  Sprinkle the dried mint into a ladle, pour the melted butter or olive oil over it (sprinkling the mint directly into the butter will cause it to burn and lose its flavour).
Drizzle this over the dish of yuvarlama and serve.
Note: Traditionally, the rice is soaked overnight, drained and dried, the pounded in a mortar.  Pounded rice is mixed with the other ingredients and kneaded by hand. Nowadays most people save time and energy by grinding the rice and meat together in a meat mincer. Another alternative is to grind the rice in a food processor until it is like fine bulgur.

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