Southern exposure

Celebrate Australia Day with recipes from down under.

Pan-fried coriander-scented lamb and rice pilaf with lentils and tomatoes.
Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty
Pan-fried coriander-scented lamb and rice pilaf with lentils and tomatoes.

Australia Day, a holiday celebrated January 26 to mark the arrival of British ships in Sydney Cove in 1788, is an ideal time for a meal of Australian favorites — lamb, rice, and Lemon Delicious Pudding. Of course, January is summer there, so they’d likely grill the lamb and serve a cool rice salad alongside, but given that it’s winter here, I’ve adjusted accordingly.

The lamb and rice dishes are both inspired by Australian chef Bill Granger’s book Bill’s Open Kitchen. Lemon Delicious Pudding, a childhood favorite of my Aussie friend Phillip, is what Americans know as pudding cake, a single confection with a light, cake-like layer topping a thin custardy layer.


Serves 4

1½ tablespoons coriander seeds, lightly toasted

1½ teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly toasted

½ teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

5 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 lamb loin chops or boneless lamb round steaks (about 2½ pounds total), dry

1 tablespoon neutral oil

Lemon wedges, for serving

In a mini-chopper or spice grinder, grind cooled coriander, fennel, and cumin seeds to a powder. Pour the powder into a small bowl, add the lemon zest, garlic, 1¼ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and the olive oil, and stir into a uniform paste. Coat the lamb all over with the paste, cover, and refrigerate for at least 3 and up to 24 hours.


Bring the lamb to room temperature. In a very large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the neutral oil until it just begins to smoke. Add the lamb and cook, undisturbed, until well browned, about 3½ minutes. Turn the lamb and cook on second side until the meat reaches 120 degrees for rare, 125 degrees for medium-rare, 130 degrees for medium (about 2½, 3, or 3½ minutes). Transfer the lamb to a platter, rest for 5 to 10 minutes, and serve with lemon wedges.

Photograph by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty
Lamb round steaks (at left), which are boneless and cut from the leg, have a slightly milder flavor than bone-in lamb loin chops (right).


Serves 6

cup green Le Puy lentils (about 4 ounces) picked over, rinsed, and drained

Salt and pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, well drained

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup basmati or other long-grain white rice

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

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In a medium saucepan, cover the lentils with water by 2 inches, set over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Partially cover, adjust heat to medium-low, and simmer until lentils are barely softened, about 12 minutes, adding ½ teaspoon salt after 8 minutes. Drain the lentils well and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan (with a cover) over medium heat, heat 1½ tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the tomatoes and cook, without stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Scrape into a bowl and set aside. Adjust heat under the pan to medium-high, add the broth, and bring to a boil, scraping pan with a wooden spoon to dissolve the fond, about 3 minutes. Pour broth into a bowl and set aside.

Adjust heat under the pan to medium, add the remaining oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until it smells nutty, about 1½ minutes. Stir in the broth, lentils, and 1½ teaspoons salt. Line the pan’s cover with a clean kitchen towel and cover pan, reduce heat to low, and simmer until rice is tender and liquid absorbed, about 15 minutes. Off heat, rest for 10 minutes, then add the tomatoes, replace cover, and rest for 5 minutes longer. Add the parsley and pepper to taste and fluff mixture with a fork to incorporate tomatoes and parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve.


Makes 1 8-by-8-inch pudding

1½ teaspoons plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1½ tablespoons plus 1 cup sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons cornstarch


5 large eggs, separated

2 teaspoons finely grated zest and 1/3 cup juice from 1 large lemon

1¼ cups buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

With the rack in the lower-middle position, heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with 1½ teaspoons butter, evenly dust with 1½ tablespoons sugar, and set aside.


In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, and ¼ teaspoon salt, and set aside. With a hand-held or standing electric mixer on high, beat egg whites until foamy, about 45 seconds. Gradually add ¼ cup sugar and continue beating until the whites are thick, glossy, and hold stiff peaks, about 1 minute longer. Scrape into another bowl and set aside. Working quickly, with the mixer at medium speed, beat remaining sugar and lemon zest for about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer, add the remaining butter, and beat at medium-high speed until pale and uniform, about 2 minutes, stopping once or twice to scrape the bowl. Add the yolks one at a time, beat, and scrape again. Reduce mixer speed to very low and, pouring slowly, add the buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Scrape the bowl, add the flour mixture, and beat at medium-low (the mixture will be thin).

Add a quarter of the beaten whites to the yolk mixture and stir with a spatula until just combined. Add the remaining whites and gently fold until just combined. Spoon batter into the baking dish and smooth the top. Set baking dish into a larger baking dish or roasting pan, transfer it to the oven rack, and carefully pour very hot or boiling water into the larger pan to reach about halfway up the sides of the dish with the pudding mixture. Bake until the pudding is puffed, lightly browned in spots, and still a little bit jiggly in the center, about 45 minutes. Remove the pudding to a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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