1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
1 2 1/2- to 3-pound boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil
2 onions (about 1 pound), thinly sliced
1 small lemon (preferably Meyer), ends trimmed, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 rounded teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup dried figs, stems trimmed, quartered lengthwise (about 4 ounces)
2 1/2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
Crispy Noodle Cake
Set strainer lined with double layer of cheesecloth over medium bowl. Place yogurt in strainer; cover and chill 3 to 5 hours to drain. Transfer yogurt to small bowl. Stir in mint; season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.)
Place 1/2 cup warm water and saffron in small bowl; let stand at least 20 minutes to infuse.
Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook lamb until brown on all sides, adding more oil as needed, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to large bowl. Pour all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot (or add 1 tablespoon oil if dry); heat pot over medium heat. Add onions; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saut� until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add lemon, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne. Stir 1 minute. Add saffron mixture; stir, scraping up browned bits. Add tomatoes with juice, figs, and lamb"
CRISPY NOODLE CAKE
12 ounces fresh linguine
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally.
Drain. Transfer pasta to medium bowl; toss with 1 tablespoon oil and parsley. Season generously with salt and pepper.
(Can be prepared 1 hour ahead. Let pasta stand at room temperature, tossing occasionally.)
Lightly oil large plate.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat.
Add pasta to skillet, spreading evenly, flattening top, and pressing down with spatula to compress. Cook until brown and crisp, about 3 minutes.
Carefully invert cake onto prepared plate. Return skillet to medium heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Slide noodle cake into skillet and cook until brown and crisp on bottom, about 3 minutes.
Transfer cake to cutting board, cut into wedges, and serve.
Makes 6 servings.Bon AppétitFebruary 2006