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4 onions, diced 
6 to 8 tablespoons butter 
2 1/2 pounds lamb (shank and/or leg of lamb), cut into 2-inch segments 
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, diced 
Salt to taste 
4 dried limes, soaked in hot water until soft (about 1/2 hour), quartered 
8 cardamom pods, gently cracked 
3 to 6 dried chile peppers (optional) 
4 cinnamon sticks 
2 to 3 teaspoons 7-spice powder (roast and grind if you buy 7-spice whole) 
4 cups rice 
1/2 cup slivered almonds and 1/2 cup pine nuts sautéed in oil (optional) 

Saute the onions in butter in a large Dutch oven or casserole until golden brown. Add the lamb and cook, stirring, until browned. Add the tomatoes and enough boiling water to barely cover the lamb. Simmer over medium heat until tender (about 2 hours). Season with salt, add the limes, cardamom pods, chiles, cinnamon and spice mix. Pour the rice into the lamb mixture and stir. Pour in the lime-soaking liquid and enough water to cover the rice and lamb. Cover and cook over medium heat until the rice is done. Serve hot, sprinkled with nuts. Serves 6 to 8