Dariush is head chef and co-owner, with wife Rebecca, of game and wild-food restaurant Cazador, in Auckland. The couple shared their lockdown with two-year-old daughter Azar. He shares his recipe for a traditional Greek Kleftiko which can be made with goat or lamb.
4-8 goat or lamb shanks, depending on size
sea salt and ground pepper
100ml extra virgin olive oil
200ml dry white wine
6 garlic cloves
2 onions, sliced
3 sprigs fresh oregano
4 waxy potatoes, peeled, cut lengthways into wedges
4 tomatoes, halved
200 grams feta, broken into pieces
Equipment: One oven tray or casserole.
Season the shanks well a few hours before cooking. Heat half of the olive oil over high heat in a heavy-based pan and sear the shanks until browned all over. Add to the tray and deglaze the pan with dry white wine, and add the liquid to the tray.
Add a few bashed garlic cloves, onion and fresh oregano.
Squeeze the lemons over the meat and add the squeezed halves to the tray. Pour the remaining oil over everything and seal the tray tightly with tin foil. Place in the oven at 180°C for 2 hours.
Add the potatoes, tomatoes and feta to the pan. Toss to coat in oil and juices and return to the oven for 40 minutes, or until the meat is falling off the bone. Serve in a shallow bowl with flat bread
to mop up the juices.
Dariush, on why he chose this recipe: Kleftiko is an old favourite for nostalgic reasons. It’s a dish that a Greek head chef of mine in London taught me. It’s also been a regular on the Cazador menu. We typically do it with wild goat but lamb is a perfect substitute. It’s easy to make, like many cuisines based around traditional, humble, peasant cooking. It’s just a combination of ingredients that a bit
of love and a bit of time bring out.
It’s a mid-season dish in the sense that, yes, it is a braise, which invokes those warming, wintry, hearty feelings. But it’s also a lighter braise; you’ve got the brightness of tomatoes and lemon, also feta and herbs, and we braise it in white wine, which keeps it light.
When it comes to entertaining, I like a meandering kind of meal. Something where we put together a few bits and pieces before people arrive so it’s not too much stress. That lends itself well to your Middle Eastern-style mezze or charcuterie platters, something low-maintenance to start where all the work is done early on in the day. That’s where the kleftiko comes in; it’s a joint of meat that takes care of itself. Close friends, perhaps a sherry to start, some local beers and something special wine-wise for the main. And a babysitter!
I found lockdown a positive time – being able to cook interesting things, baking, reading and exercise. There’s a handful of people who are full steam ahead, always thinking about food. But my creativity comes when I am living it rather than working it, just cooking on a whim.
We’re thinking we will keep Cazador food a premium dining experience so we’ve been concentrating on the new Cazador deli next door, which is now fully open. We have been selling hampers with our house-cured charcuterie, pickles, cheeses, condiments and so forth, and that has kept us very busy.
The thing I most looked forward to after lockdown? Having dinner at mum’s house!