Lamb Stew


This recipe was found in A Baghdad Cookery Book which was translated from the Arabic by A. J. Arberry. This translation was based on a manuscript written in Baghdad in 1226 by Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn al-Karïm al-Kätib al-Baghdädï.

Original Recipe:

Need to find original recipe

Translation: (Translation by A. J. Arberry)

Cut fat meat into middling pieces, place in the saucepan, and cover with water, fresh coriander, cinnamon-bark, and salt to taste. When boiling, remove the froth and cream with a ladle, and throw away. Remove the fresh coriander, and add dry coriander. Take white onions, Syrian leeks, and carrots if in season, or else egg-plant. Skin, splitting the egg-plant thoroughly, and half stew in water in a separte saucepan: then strain, and leave in the saucepan on top of the meat. Add seasonings, and salt to taste. When almost cooked, take wine-vinegar and date-juice, or honey if preferred - date-juice is the more suitable - and mix together so that the mixture is midway between sharp and sweet, then pour into the saucepan, and boil for an hour. When ready to take off the fire, remove a little of the broth, bray into it saffron as required, and pour back into the suacepan. Then take sweet almonds, peel, split, and place on top of the pan, together with a few raisins, currants, and dried figs. Cover for an hour, to settle over the heat of the fire. Wipe the sides with a clean rag, and sprinkle rose-water on top. When settled, remove.

My Interpretation:

Cut lamb into bite size pieces. Place lamb & bone in 6-8 quart pot and cover with water. Add fresh coriander, cinnamon bark and 2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 30 minutes, then skim any froth. Slice the leek white, carrots & onion. Remove the coriander and cinnamon bark from the pot. Add dry corriander, leeks, carrots, onion, and 2 tsp. salt to the pot. Grind long pepper, grains of paradise, and cubebs and add to pot. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Remove lamb bone from pot and discard. Add ½ cup vinegar and honey to pot. Remove about ¼ cup of broth from the pot and mix with saffron in a mortar and pestle to grind the saffron into the broth. Return broth with saffron to the pot. Add almonds, raisins, currants and dried figs. Reduce heat to low and let cook for an hour. Stir in remaining vinegar and salt, remove from heat. Let rest 5 minutes. Sprinkle rose water on top and serve. Serves 8.


    • When first making this dish, the lamb selection was limited (end of January). There were 4 pounds of lamb neckbones available, which seemed to yield about two pounds worth of meat. The marrow from the bones, however, yielded a very nice broth that became thick when stewed with the root vegetables. For ease in making this dish, but to add the quality of the marrow, I suggest using a shank or leg bone.

    • The sour flavor of the vinegar did not seem to be balanced with the sweetness added by the dry fruits. The sweet and sour flavors seem to be more balanced with the addition of vinegar just prior to serving.

    • Honey was chosen in favor of date juice, for I have not encountered date juice in any of my local markets with an international section. When I find a source for date juice, or directions on how to make it, I would be interested in trying it with the date juice instead of honey.

    • The translations says to "Add seasonings, and salt to taste". My choice for seasonings were long pepper, grains of paradise, and cubebs. All medieval varieties of pepper which I believe add to the savory character of this dish.

Works Referenced:

A Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Cookbooks compiled by Duke Cariadoc of the Bow and Duchessa Diana Alena: