Curried Lamb and Almond Puffs with Yogurt-Mint Sauce


Photo by Michael Piazza

Using a mini-muffin tin as a mold, these little pastry cups hold a savory blend of minced lamb and sliced almonds, topped with nigella seeds and feta cheese, if you like. Make this a more substantial dish by folding the lamb mix into big pastry triangles, crimping the edges to seal; one or two served with a salad makes a nice lunch. The bright, sour yogurt-mint dipping sauce cools the chili heat of the lamb and contrasts nicely with the warm, flaky pastry.

Makes 36 puffs

extra-virgin olive oil
½ onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ pound ground lamb
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoons curry powder
pinch chili flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fig jam or chutney
zest and juice of ½ lemon
½ cup cilantro, minced
½ cup sliced almonds
1 sheet thawed all-butter puff pastry, either homemade or store-bought
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Nigella seeds, for garnish
sheep-milk feta, crumbled, optional
1 cup whole-milk thick yogurt
¼ cup mint, chopped
1 clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Sauté onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add ground lamb, cumin, curry powder, chili flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Sizzle in the pan, breaking up lamb with a spatula, until browned and crispy all over. Stir in fig jam or chutney, lemon zest and juice, cilantro and sliced almonds. Add a few tablespoons water to deglaze the pan. Chill until very cold.

Roll out a puff pastry sheet to a 12- by 12-inch square and, using a ruler or straight edge, cut into 36 (2-inch) squares. Tuck each square into the cup of a mini muffin tin, then fill with a tablespoon or so of lamb-almond mixture. Crumble in some feta, if you like. To make in advance, wrap muffin tin(s) with plastic and freeze until firm. When ready to bake, brush edges with egg wash and sprinkle with nigella seeds. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes, or until browned and sizzling. While they bake, stir together yogurt, mint, garlic, lemon juice and sea salt to taste. Serve puffs hot with sauce for dunking.

This recipe appeared in the Winter 2019 issue as part of a larger story on pantry staple hors d’oeuvres.