Lamb stew is a comforting dish, but most recipes are far too complicated and time-consuming to prepare. I’m sharing two methods of cooking this dish one in a pressure cooker to save you time and the other method is by using a regular pan.
This recipe is inspired by the food of the Arabian Gulf and the surrounding Arab states. The combination of spices in the lamb and potatoes makes for a hearty, delicious dish.
You can’t ask for a tastier meal than the fragrant dish that comes from the Middle East: the Arabian Lamb Stew. Perfect for warming up during the chilly days of winter, this lamb stew recipe will fill your kitchen with a scent that draws all the members of your family to the kitchen table.
What's an Arabian Lamb Stew
Arabian Lamb Stew. Umm. Well, that just sounds amazing, doesn’t it? It is a rich, flavorful, and hearty stew with tender meat, potatoes and onions, and a hint of subtle, delicious spice.
This lamb stew is also called Saloonat Laham in Arabic, Saloona means stew while Laham means meat. This is a very popular dish in the Gulf Area. It is cooked almost two to three times a week and it’s delicious, you really can’t get bored of it.
Every country has its own unique touch to this dish. The taste will differ from Bahrain to Kuwait, to UAE, but you will still like the taste.
It’s the perfect recipe that kids and adults both enjoy. It’s comforting, rich, and super easy to prepare. There’s truly nothing better for a chilly, winter’s night than a hearty bowl of this lamb stew.
What’s best is that it’s the perfect recipe to serve a large number of people since the method I’ll explain is the easiest one you’ll ever come across!
What Makes This Recipe Special?
Most lamb stew recipes are far too complicated and take hours upon hours to prepare. You usually have to slow-cook the meat for at least 4 hours, or let it simmer in a dutch oven for that! For this reason, lamb stew is usually not something you can whip up quickly.
But this recipe is extra special – it can be prepared in just 30 minutes! And the trick to that is a handy pressure cooker! Oh, don’t forget to read the notes, I have shared another way to make cooking the meat faster.
A lot of people find using a pressure cooker intimidating at first, and I’m not going to lie – so did I. But once I learned how to use one safely, it’s by far my favorite gadget in the kitchen now! For that, all you have to do is read the instructions that came with your pressure cooker and follow my recipe to a T!
It truly makes cooking fun and saves a ton of time too. Cooking lamb and beef takes a lot of time otherwise, but instead of simmering your dish for 4 hours, this recipe will be ready in 30 minutes with the help of a pressure cooker!
What You Need To Make The Perfect Arabian Lamb Stew
If you’ve never made any kind of stew before, it can feel a bit intimidating. But this recipe is the perfect one to start with! It’s super easy and uses the simplest of ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to make this delicious stew at home:
Lamb: We’ll be using 500 grams of boneless lamb meat cut into 1-inch pieces or cubes. Or you can use 1 kilo of lamb with bones. Check the next section if you want to know more about which type of lamb cut to use for this stew!
Onion: This adds a delicious, subtle flavor to the stew, and it would be incomplete without the use of an onion!
Potatoes: A stew is not a stew without some hearty potatoes! We’ll be using one large potato cut into cubes for this recipe.
Garlic: Garlic goes well with lamb and it enhances the flavor of the meat even more.
Tomato paste: Instead of going for tomato or tomato puree, this recipe uses tomato paste. It adds a beautiful richness to the dish, and a stunning color too. Trust me on this one!
Hawaij spice mix: Hawaij means “mixture” in Arabic. This is the special Yemeni spice mix that is used to make delicious recipes such as Chicken Mandi. It’s super easy to make and store at home and will add an extra something-something to your dish.
Other spices: We’ll also be using whole cardamom pods, cloves, cumin powder, dry lemon, and a little bit of cinnamon to add to the aroma and flavor of this scrumptious stew.
What Cut of Lamb is Best for Stew?
Your local butcher or grocery store will have various cuts of lamb that you can use for this recipe. Any regular boneless lamb cut would work with this recipe because the ingredients themselves add a ton of richness to the dish.
But if you want to go for a particular cut, you can opt for some boneless lamb shoulder or boneless leg of lamb. Lamb shoulder cuts have a lot of fat and connective tissue that add an extra layer of flavor to the dish. Make sure to ask the butcher to chop off excess fat before you buy your lamb meat.
Boneless lamb rib cuts would also be great for the recipe. If you want an extra luxurious flavor to the recipe, opt for either rib cuts or shoulder cuts. Both these cuts have more collagen which will break down into gelatin during the cooking process and add a beautiful richness to your meal.
For more flavor use lamb meat with bones, it is what I mostly go for and is also shown in the video!
What is Hawaij (Yemeni) Spice Mix?
Hawaij means “mixture” in Arabic, and this is a special Yemeni spice mix that is used to make popular Arabic recipes such as Chicken Mandi and this Saloonat Laham, lamb stew.
It’s a simple spice mix you can make by literally mixing a few spices and storing it in a jar. I have a full recipe breakdown for it here.
It’s something to prepare once and then be able to use in multiple dishes over time.
How To Make It Step by Step
- Sauté onions: In a pressure cooker, add some cooking oil, and when hot add the chopped onions. Sauté them until they turn translucent.
- Add lamb: Next, toss in the lamb pieces and stir on medium-high heat until the lamb has brown bits appearing over it.
- Add spices and garlic: Now add the spices and garlic and cook it for one more minute. You can also add salt to taste at this stage. Personally, I add one teaspoon of salt to my stew when I make it at home.
- Add tomato paste and potatoes: Add the tomato paste and water, let it come to a boil. Add the potato and cover the pressure cooker. Keep the heat on medium-high, and after the first whistle, reduce heat to low and let it cook for 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and let the pressure cooker rest: Turn off the heat and leave the pressure cooker to release the steam and pressure completely. Do not attempt to open the pressure cooker at this point as it’s dangerous.
- Ready to serve: Your lamb stew is now ready to serve with some delicious rice or bread!
What to Serve with Lamb Stew?
Lamb stew is usually served with rice, but it can be served with bread too. In case you are serving this stew with bread, it’s best if you keep the stew consistency thick.
Pick any kind of bread you like. For rice, you can try my parboiled rice recipe for the perfect rice every single time!
Other Variations for this Recipe
The recipe and ingredients I’ve listed are the classic ones for an Arabian Lamb Stew, but you can make it your own with a few variations!
You can add other vegetables you have around or like. Some vegetables and herbs that go really well with this stew are carrots, bell peppers, bay leaves, fresh thyme, mushrooms, parsley, parsnips and turnips.
But don’t limit yourself to just these! Experiment with this delicious base recipe, and make it your own! If you’re a bacon lover, you can also add it to the recipe – although, it’s not at all a traditional Arabian ingredient.
This recipe is also alcohol-free, so you won’t find any beer like Guinness in it, as alcohol is not consumed in this part of the world for religious reasons.
Other Recipes You'll Love
- Kunafa with Cream Arabian Dessert: Thinking of having some dessert after trying this delicious hearty stew? A delicious Arabian dessert is the way to go! Kunafa is a traditional Arabic dessert made from Phyllo dough filled with either pastry cream or sweet Arabic cheese, you’re going to love it!
- Arayes Pita Bread Stuffed with Lamb Meat: Looking for a great Middle Eastern appetizer to use your leftover lamb cuts? I have you covered! Try my delicious Arayes recipe, which is a beautiful pita bread stuffed with seasoned ground lamb meat.
- Yemeni Chicken Mandi: Have some extra Hawaij spice mix you want to utilize? Try my Yemeni Chicken Mandi recipe! It’s packed with flavor and is truly a wholesome dish that your family is going to love!
Arabian Lamb Stew Recipe
For cooking the lamb meat in a regular pan
- 500 gm lamb cubes or 1 kilo if with bones
- ½ tablespoon black pepper corns
- ½ tablespoon green cardamom
- 5 whole cloves
- Enough water to cover the lamb meat and cook it for 1 hour and half
- *Don't use the spices above in the pressure cooker method. Note #5 below
For the stew
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 large potato cut into cubes
- 5 garlic cloves minced medium sized garlic
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- Salt to taste or two teaspoon
- 6 whole cardamoms
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 5 whole cloves
- 3- inch cinnamon stick or half teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1 ½ tablespoon Yamani spice mix recipe in Mandi post
- 1 dry lemon
- 2 to 3 tablespoon ghee
- 5 cups boiling water you will need 2 cups if using pressure cooker method
Cooking in a regular pan
- In a large pan, add the lamb meat, black pepper corns, green cardamom, cloves, and enough water to cover the lamb meat and cook it for one hour and half.
- When the lamb is cooked, discard the spices and water, and keep the meat aside.
- In a medium pan, melt the ghee, then fry the onion until translucent and almost golden.
- Add the meat to the onion and fry until you see brown patches on it, then add the potatoes and mix for one minute. Cover for two minutes, then add the garlic and mix.
- Season with salt and the rest of the stew spices, mix well. Add the tomato paste and mix until combined.
- Pour the boiling water and cook the stew until the potato is cooked and the meat is completely cooked around 20 minutes on medium heat.
Cooking in a pressure cooker
- In a pressure cooker, add oil and when hot add the onion and fry until translucent.
- Add the lamb and stir on medium heat until the lamb has light brown patches. Scrape off any bits that might have gotten stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the spices and the garlic. Stir for one minute.
- Add the tomato paste and 2 cups water, let it come to a boil. Add the potato and cover the pressure cooker.
- Keep the heat on medium-high, and after the first whistle, reduce heat to low and let it cook for 15 minutes.
- Turn off heat and leave the pressure cooker to release the steam and pressure completely. Do not attempt to open the pressure cooker at this point it’s dangerous.
- Your lamb stew is ready to serve.
- Cut the meat in smaller cuts to help cook it faster.
- Do not add salt when cooking the meat the regular way to prevent it from getting tough or taking longer time to cook.
- I’m sharing two methods for making this stew. Cooking with a pressure cooker and using a regular pan.
- The pressure cooker method takes 30 minutes but the regular cooking method takes one hour and 50 minutes in cooking.
- You will not need to cook the meat separately if using the pressure cooker method.
- This post was originally published in 2016 and is updated with a video and more information.