Nettle Pirjan (Roasted Lamb with Wild Rice and Boiled Nettles)

Cukvarkuca, or common mountain house leek, grows in the Bosnian mountains and Dinaric Alps. The plant has hermaphroditic (male and female) flowers. The leaves are used in salads and for purposes similar to the aloe plant. The plant stretches across the Southeastern mountains into Iran, depicting the migration of the Tornjak.

Sana Koric would take me to the fields where the best nettle grew. I asked her why she did not grow her own, and she told me that the nettle is best if grown wild and on its own. Gatherers select only the most succulent, and the Slavs believe that the wildness of the plant adds to its nutritional value. During the Balkan Wars, nettles saved many from starvation.

This recipe is for Nettle Pirjan.

1 pound Nettle leaves
3 pounds lamb
1 cup wild rice soaked overnight in artesian waters
Tablespoon red pepper and salt and ground white pepper
Tablespoon of ghee

Chop the nettle leaves and place in a pot. Place lamb seasoned with salt and ground pepper in roasting dish with a cup of water. Roast in oven at 425 degrees, and when cooked, take cup of water from roasting pan and add to the nettles. Bring nettles to boil and add wild rice and ghee. Add water as needed for the wild rice. Season with red pepper, ground white pepper, and salt.