Omar Sharif's Fatta
Half leg of lamb (bone in), weighing about 4 pounds
About 3 1/2 cups water
1 small yellow onion, peeled
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup sweet butter
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon dried mint flakes
1 pint yogurt
1 cup long-grain rice
4 slices white bread, edges trimmed, toasted, cut in 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons pine nuts, browned in butter
Trim off excess fat and fell (outer layer of skin) from lamb. Cut meat into bite-size pieces; place in stock pot with enough water to cover, along with whole onion, stick cinnamon, cardamom seeds and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to boiling point, reduce heat so meat simmers slowly. Cook 45 minutes (or until meat is tender). At frequent intervals skim off scum that forms. Remove from fire, discarding bone, onion and spices. Strain stock and reserve. Set meat aside.
Clarify butter by heating slowly until residue forms in bottom of pan. Retain clear butter, discard milky residue. Brown lamb bits in about 1 1/2 tablespoons clarified butter. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Mix yogurt with beaten egg. Heat until mixture begins to boil; set aside. Heat garlic (whole) in 1 tablespoon clarified butter with 1/2 teaspoon salt and mint flakes; remove garlic, discard. Add garlic-butter and yogurt to browned lamb. Meanwhile cook rice in 2 1/2 cups lamb broth until fluffy.
Put toasted bread crumbs in bottom of deep platter (or casserole). Top with hot cooked rice. Spoon lamb mixture and sauce overall. Decorate with butter-browned pine nuts. Serve at once. Serves 6-8.
Thoughts: Fatta resembles stroganoff in flavor and appearance. Care must be taken not to overheat the yogurt which curdles at high temperatures.