Lamb Loin with Smoked Kūmara Mash, Kawakawa Pesto & Horopito Salt

Recipes Vicki Ravlich Horan, Images Brydie Thompson

On June 24th we will be celebrating Matariki for the first time as a nation. This special time of year is traditionally a time to give thanks for an abundant harvest, to gather whānau around and share food, remembering the past and looking to the future. Like with so many celebrations, food is a crucial part of Matariki, and so I feel it timely that we as a nation embrace this time of year and also begin to embrace our food story.
In this dish I take beautiful New Zealand lamb and pair it with a smoked kūmara mash reminiscent of the flavours found from hāngī. I then take uniquely New Zealand ingredients like kawakawa and horopito that we have foraged while on a family walk to bring the dish together.


Smoked Kūmara Mash

500–750g kūmara (I used the beautiful orange Beauregard, but any will work)

½ cup cream

30g butter

handful of wood chips, soaked for at least an hour


Kawakawa Pesto
½ cup pine nuts (cashews or almonds would also work)

100–150g watercress or rocket

10–15 kawakawa leaves

1 garlic clove

50g Parmesan, grated

pinch of flaky salt

⅓ cup olive oil


4x lamb loin, at room temperature for best results

1 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tsp flaky sea salt

2 tsp freshly cracked pepper

2 tsp dried and ground horopito


To make the smoky kūmara mash, peel the kūmara and chop into 6–8 pieces, then place in a pot of cold water with a generous pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and simmer until soft.

While the kumara is cooking, smoke the cream and butter. Place the soaked woodchips on the bottom of a wok, cover with a lid and heat. Place the cream and butter in a small metal bowl and when the smoke has built up, quickly lift the lid and place the bowl inside. Re-cover and smoke the cream and butter for 5 minutes, with the heat on low. Once the 5 minutes is up, turn the heat off and leave it in there until the kūmara is cooked.

Drain the kūmara and mash, then add in the smoked cream/butter. Season to taste and keep warm until serving.

To make the kawakawa pesto, place the nuts, cress, kawakawa, Parmesan, salt and garlic into a blender and blitz. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream until fully blended. Check for seasoning and set aside until needed.

To cook the lamb, pat the loins dry with a paper towel. Mix together the sesame seeds, salt, pepper and horopito. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat a large pan and add a dash of oil. Sprinkle the lamb loins liberally with the salt mix, then sear for 3 minutes on one side, then 2 minutes on the other, before placing it in the oven for 4 minutes to finish cooking. Remove lamb from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Slice the lamb loin and serve on a bed of the smoky kūmara mash. Dollop the pesto on top of the lamb. Serve with your favourite winter salad or steamed broccolini. We have used a watercress and orange salad here.

Note: if you have a smoker on your BBQ, you could put the cream in there. Or forget the fluff and buy liquid smoke from Vetro, then add a few drops in until you achieve the desired smoky flavour.


Horopito and Lemon Cordial

This simple to make cordial is great if you are feeling under the weather. A dose of vitamin C along with a peppery kick from the horopito is just the tonic to knock any cold out of you.  But don’t relinquish it to just the first aid kit, it makes a refreshing soda with the addition of some sparkling water.


1 cup sugar
1 cup water
handful of dried horopito leaves*
½–1 cup fresh lemon juice**



Place the sugar, water and horopito in a small pot and heat. Once the sugar has completely dissolved take the syrup off the heat and allow to cool completely.
Strain and add the lemon juice, then store in the fridge until you need.

To serve, dilute to taste with still (hot or cold) or sparkling water.

*You can adjust the pepperiness by adjusting the amount of horopito you use.

**The amount of lemon juice you use will depend on the sharpness of your lemons.


Dried Horopito
Horopito is a spicy leaf with wonderful lemon undertones. I dry the leaves either in the sunshine for a couple of days or a week depending on the time of year. Alternatively, you can place them in the oven at night as it is cooling down, or better still in a dehydrator if you have one. If using the oven or sun method be sure there is plenty of air flow by placing the leaves on a cooling rack.

Once the leaves are dry, they should easily crush. If turning them into a peppery salt, simply pound with sea salt in a mortar and pestle.

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