The restaurant recipes we're making at home: Le Bab's meatlafel

Eve O'Sullivan
14 April, 2016

The limited menu at Central London’s Le Bab is the true definition of all killer no filler. We fell for the chicken liver parfait lokma, the chicken kebab with crispy skin, and the recipe you see before you: meatlafel. And yes, dehydrating frozen peas will be more than worth it in this instance.

Serves 4

For the stuffing
200g beef shin
200g lamb neck
1 heaped tsp sumac
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 black cardamom pods
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
2 star anise
1 tsp coriander seeds
1-3 smoked chillies, e.g. aji amarillo or habanero, to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste

For the coating
250g frozen peas
150g dry chickpeas
1 tbsp coriander leaf, chopped
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1/2 banana shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp gram (chickpea) flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Salt, to taste

For the tzatziki
6 tbsp full fat Greek yoghurt
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 tbsp grated cucumber

Vegetable oil, for frying

Preheat the oven to 150C/320F/gas mark 3. Place all the braising ingredients in a pan, cover with water then bring to the boil, skimming off and scum that rises to the top. Transfer to an oven and cook for 3 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone.

Remove the meat and pick through it once cooled. Strain the braising liquor and reduce to the consistency of gravy. Pour over the picked meat, mix thoroughly and season with salt, then place in the fridge to chill.

Lower the heat of the oven to 120C/350F/gas mark 1, then place the peas on a tray and dehydrate for 10 minutes. Blend the chickpeas, dried peas, herbs, onion and garlic in a food processor. Be careful not to over blitz the mixture or it will not achieve a crunchy, crumbly consistency when cooked. Use the pulse setting if necessary. Mix through the spices, flour, baking powder and salt.

At this point, fry a tester of the coating mixture. Heat some vegetable oil in a small pan to 160C, then roll a grape-sized ball of the mixture and drop it in. If the ball breaks up as it cooks, add some extra gram flour to the mixture and check again – it should hold together and come out crunchy when cooked to a deep brown. However, too much gram flour will make the coating feel and taste doughy, so add it gradually.

Divide the picked meat into balls of 20g and pack a decent layer of coating tightly around the ball in the palm of your hand, making sure not to leave any gaps. Place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes before frying; this helps to prevent them from breaking up.

To make the tzatziki, mix all the ingredients together.

When the meatlafel are cold, fry in the pan of vegetable oil, still at 160C, until dark brown, then place on some kitchen towels to dry. Sprinkle with a little salt before serving with a spoonful of the tzatziki.

Find out more about Le Bab here.

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