Grilled lamb chops with green tahini sauce (left) and grilled cauliflower with tamarind-tomato sauce. (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Grilled lamb chops with green tahini sauce (left) and grilled cauliflower with tamarind-tomato sauce. (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Zesty toppings give flavor boost to grilled lamb and cauliflower

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Tangy tamarind-tomato sauce puts a Near Eastern spin on grilled cauliflower, and an herb-packed tahini sauce provides a Middle Eastern accent to grilled lamb chops in recipes that get extra flavor from their toppings.

Hawaij, a Yemeni spice mix, gives the cauliflower flavor and color. Sometimes labeled as Yemeni spice mix for soup, hawaij is available online and in some specialty, kosher and Middle Eastern markets. Curry powder is a good substitute.

The za’atar-marinated lamb chops get a lift from the creamy sesame seed sauce augmented with fresh dill, mint and parsley.

Both recipes can also be made on an indoor electric grill or in a grill pan.

Grilled Cauliflower with Tamarind-Tomato Sauce

Serves 4

  • Spiced marinade (see below)
  • Tamarind-tomato sauce (see below)
  • Large whole cauliflower
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbs. chopped parsley or cilantro

Have ready marinade and sauce. Cut off cauliflower leaves. Cut stem close to base. Slice in half from top through base. Place in a microwave-safe cooking dish. Brush marinade on all sides. Turn cut sides down. Add 2 Tbs. water, and tent with waxed paper. Microwave on high for 8-10 minutes (timing varies) until a fork pierces halfway through cauliflower. (Refrigerate and bring to room temperature if making ahead.)

Grease grill grates with oil. Heat to medium-high. Remove cauliflower from dish. Place cut sides down on grill. Brush with marinade. Grill halves, turning occasionally and brushing with marinade, until fork slides through.

To serve, cut each piece in half and top with warm Tomato-Tamarind Sauce. Sprinkle with parsley (or cilantro).

Spiced Marinade: Combine 2 Tbs. minced garlic, 6 Tbs. olive oil, 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, 1 Tbs. hawaij (or curry powder), ½ tsp. ground sumac (or 1½ tsp. minced, grated lemon rind), ¼ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. crumbled dried mint leaves and ¼ tsp. chili flakes. Mix well.

Tomato-Tamarind Sauce: In a pot over medium-low heat, combine 8 oz. can plain tomato sauce with 1 Tbs. tamarind paste or concentrate and 1 tsp. sugar. Bring to a simmer, stirring often. Simmer until reduced to the consistency of a thick pasta sauce. Taste and add more tamarind or sugar if needed.

RELATED: Kick off summer with some sweet grilled heat

Grilled Lamb Chops with Green Tahini Sauce

Serves 4

  • Za’atar Marinade (see below)
  • Green Tahini Sauce (see below)
  • 4 large shoulder-cut lamb chops or 8 rib chops
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbs. chopped dill

Have ready marinade and tahini sauce. Reserve ¼ cup of marinade and set it aside for grilling.

Put chops in dish. Brush with remaining marinade. Marinate for 1 hour (or overnight in refrigerator; bring to room temperature). Brush again with marinade that has dripped into the dish; discard this marinade after removing chops from dish to grill.

Brush grill grate with oil. Heat to medium-high. Place chops on grill. Brush with reserved marinade. Grill, turning chops occasionally and brushing with marinade, until cooked (about 10-12 minutes for medium-rare, timing varies). Serve topped with green tahini sauce and sprinkled with dill.

Za’atar marinade: Combine ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 1 Tbs. minced garlic, ½ tsp. crumbled or ground za’atar, ¼ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. ground black pepper, ¼ tsp. ground cumin and tsp. chili flakes.

Green tahini sauce: In a medium bowl, combine ¾ cup tahini, 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, ¼ cup very cold water and ¼ tsp. salt. Stir well. Drizzle in 2 Tbs. more cold water and stir again until smooth (may take a few minutes). Mixture should be smooth and pourable but still thick. If it is too thick or not yet smooth, stir in an additional 2 Tbs. cold water. Repeat as needed. Stir in 1 Tbs. minced garlic (use 1 tsp. for milder flavor), ½ cup finely chopped fresh mint, ½ cup finely chopped fresh dill and ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley. Taste and add more cold water, lemon juice or salt if needed.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].