The Hunger Games trilogy is incredibly captivating. It sucked me in from the very first page and kept me going until the end. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. Anyway….in the books, the author constantly describes food. She expresses tastes, smells, and cravings so intensely that you’re tempted to put down her book to cook! So in honor of the Hunger Games, I decided to make one of the main dishes in the book – lamb stew with dried plums. I couldn’t find a recipe I liked online (none of them were unique or special enough to capture the spirit of the books), so I came up with this one!

Because the stew comes from the affluent Capitol, I decided to cook with red onions and eggplant…since the color purple often symbolizes wealth. The honey and dried plums provide the same sticky sweetness that’s indicative of The Capitol’s citizens. The vegetables and lamb are simmered in a simple but powerful broth of beef, red wine, and rosemary. Since the flavors are new to Katniss (the main character), I wanted some sort of surprise. So I added in cinnamon, ginger, and cilantro. The result is uniquely exotic but familiar…like a mix of Moroccan, French, English, and Armenian flavors.

Right before serving, sprinkle on black sesame seeds for a subtle nutty note (regular sesame seeds work well too, but the black ones make the stew more elegantly mysterious…just like The Capitol). Katniss Everdeen and my parents LOVE this slightly sweet stew filled with tender vegetables and luscious lamb in a mouth watering wine plum sauce. So definitely make it…and read the books for some food inspiration!

 

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 lb Australian lamb loin

1 tablespoon butter

1 red onion (quartered and sliced)

4 garlic cloves (chopped)

3 carrots (cut into chunks)

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

½ eggplant (cubed)

1 ½ potatoes (cubed…you can use 2 if you want extra ‘taters)

1 tablespoon mustard

2 sprigs rosemary (≈2 teaspoons chopped)

5 sprigs cilantro

1 can beef broth

¼ cup red wine (I use a red Californian table wine)

4 oz prunes (each cut in half)

2 tablespoons honey

Black sesame seeds to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle lamb with salt/pepper and then lay in the pot. Brown both sides of the lamb (about 1-2 minutes per side). Remove meat from pot (put on a plate). Reserve.

Switch heat to medium-low. Add butter and onion to the pot. Cook for about 3-5 minutes (until slightly tender). Add garlic, cinnamon, ginger, and carrots. Stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute before adding in the eggplant, potatoes, rosemary, and mustard. Sprinkle in some salt/pepper. Stir to combine.

Put lamb back into the pot. Stir to combine. Place the sprigs of cilantro on top of everything (you’ll be removing these later). Pour in the wine and beef broth. Bring to boil. As soon as it boils, reduce heat to low. Cover. Simmer for 1 ½ hours.

Uncover. Stir in plums and honey. Cover. Simmer for another 30 minutes.

Remove the sprigs of cilantro.

Serve hot with crusty bread! Oh, and a garnish with some sesame seeds and chopped cilantro!

Enjoy!

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