Persian Lamb Stew

Farah cooks Persian food in my kitchen while I take notes.

When learning to cook regional Jewish dishes, I like to go straight to the source. I want to observe the way it’s done by people who grew up cooking and eating the food. I’ll travel pretty much anywhere to learn the secret of an authentic regional dish. Luckily, when I wanted to learn Persian Jewish cooking, I didn’t have to travel– instead, our friend Farah came to me. :)

Farah was born in Iran. She immigrated to Israel with her family when she was 5 years old. Her father worked as a cook in many different places, eventually landing as the head chef in a Tel Aviv hospital kitchen. Farah followed in her father’s footsteps, opening a small cafe in Jaffa for other Iranian immigrants. She later moved to the United States with her family and cooked professionally for many years.

Farah is an awesome chef, and she’s generous with her talent. I asked her to give me a crash course in Persian cooking. When she asked what dishes I’d like to learn, I told her I really wanted the secret to making Persian rice with tah-deeg. So, she taught me how to make Persian rice with dill and lima beans… and Persian rice with raisins and carrots… and garlic roast chicken… and cucumber salad… and kooba, fried bulgur wheat pies stuffed with ground lamb and pine nuts. In addition to all this, my husband’s sister brought along two delicious eggplant recipes.

Needless to say, by the end of the night we were beyond stuffed! I think I waddled to bed. But the calorie splurge was worth it. Such a delicious meal!

Did I mention the Persian Lamb Stew? No? Well, it was my favorite dish of the night. I love it when a simple recipe is so full of flavor. Even if you’re not a big fan of lamb, you might want to reconsider and try this stew. The spiced meat is ultra tender, it flakes with a fork and melts in your mouth. The basmati rice soaks up the yummy sauce, a perfect accompaniment to the stew. As a bonus, this dish is gluten free. The sauce needs no thickening from outside sources; it naturally thickens during the slow cooking process. It also contains a hefty dose of turmeric, a spice that has strong anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties.

It’s so hard to do a stew like this justice in pictures– it’s one of those recipes that doesn’t photograph very well, even though it’s amazingly delicious. I did the best I could. You’ll just have to trust me on this one. What a treat!

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Persian Lamb Stew


  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, minced
  • 3 lbs lamb stew meat cut into chunks
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cups steamed basmati rice
Servings: 8 servings
Kosher Key: Meat
  • In a small dish, mix together turmeric, black pepper, salt, and crushed red pepper seasoning.
  • In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high till hot (not smoking). Saute for 10 minutes until onion softens and starts to turn golden brown.
  • Add the lamb stew meat to the pot. You can use bone-in lamb meat, boneless meat, or a combination of the two. Sprinkle the seasonings evenly across the top of the meat.
  • Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the meat chunks have browned on all sides (about five minutes).
  • Cover the meat with about 4 cups of warm water. Bring mixture to a slow boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer on medium low heat for two hours.
  • Use a large shallow spoon to skim the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid every 30 minutes.
  • After 2 hours, add tomato paste to the pot and stir slowly until paste dissolves into the broth.
  • Simmer for another 20 minutes uncovered till the meat is nice and tender and the sauce has thickened. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning, if desired.
  • Garnish the stew with fresh parsley or cilantro. Serve lamb and sauce over freshly steamed basmati rice.

Comments (81)Post a Comment

  1. This post is perfect timing. I have some lamb in my freezer that the Mister and I were just talking about needing to cook up, I just didn’t know what I was going to do with it. Now I do. I’m tempted to slip some curry powder in, how’s that sound? :)

  2. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Tori – I think this photographed just fine and – while I’m not a fan of lamb – this looks amazing! Farrah looks like a fun person to have in the kitchen and her dishes sound amazing! Tell her I said hello and thanks for sharing her time with us!

  3. Oh Tori this is a beautiful dish. How lucky for you to have Farah come show you and us this one. May I just say how cute you look. Red is so you girl. I have to say I just want to reach in and steal that big pot. It’s beautiful.

  4. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Tori, this stew looks absolutely wonderful! I can just imagine the aromas wafting throughout your house from all this cooking! What a fun learning day :-) Farah is an awesome gal! I’ll totally make this soon when we get a cool day here in So Cal :-) Thank you so much for sharing this with us and please thank Farah, too!

  5. looks amazing. could you give more specifics regarding the cut of meat? I mean is it leg, shank, etc and also: in one of the pictures it appears that there are bones included…yes? I imagine that would add to the quality of the final gravy (flavor, gelatin) thanks! I will be making this.

    1. Hi Moshe! Ask the butcher for either bone in or boneless lamb stew meat. It’s really a matter of preference. Sometimes I use boneless, and sometimes I use a combination of bone-in and boneless because the bone-in gives a little more moisture and flavor. I’ve made this recipe a few times, but when I photographed it I think the butcher gave me shank meat on the bone cut up (so some was boneless and some had bone). It was a nice cut and very flavorful. Enjoy!

  6. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I love lamb. For a long time I was terrified of going back to my favorite Afghan restaurant because I was terrified that they used butter in their rice (dairy + meat= NO-NO!) But I went back today and they informed me indignantly that they use only vegetable oil on the rice! Yay. So I ordered Moroccan Lemon Chicken.. mmm.

    But lamb is my favorite meat of all time, especially well-spiced ethnic lamb recipes like this. It’s almost like Indian biryani… but the Indian biryanis were introduced to India by Persian conquerors, so maybe it’s the same dish! Mmmm. So delicious.

  7. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I made this last night and it was incredibly easy and delicious! Will be a regular on our menu! Thanks for the great instructions.

  8. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    How amazing is that? I would love to have someone come give me a cooking lesson in another cuisine. And it would be worth every single one of those calories 😉 This stew sounds fantastic and the experience sounds priceless.

  9. Hi Tori, do you think I could substitute chicken for this? I want to make it but I don’t eat lamb. It may have a different taste, but I bet it will still be good. Thank you, I would love to learn more about Persian cooking!


    1. Update! I made this for dinner this evening and I used beef in place of the lamb (because I don’t eat lamb) and it turned out AWESOME!!!! I added a couple of diced red potatoes during the last half hour of cooking. Thank you for another outstanding recipe, Tori!!!

    1. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
      Also, tried this recipe tonight, it was SO GOOD! its amazing that so few ingredients could be so super delicious. I wound up getting two lamb shoulder cuts (bone in) and deboning it and cubing it up pretty big (and when I say I did that, I mean my boyfriend did it) but then put the bones in to simmer with the sauce for the flavor. It was so good, definately a make again! Often!

  10. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    yum, yum and yum…made this tonight and am on the verge of eating it with family…Toda Raba for the recipe, Farah and Tori

  11. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Just found your blog, wish I had found it earlier. What a great dish. My father says he doesn’t like lamb, but I am going to try him on this dish, bet he will love it. Thanks for publishing it. Its wonderful.

  12. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    This looks amazing and relatively easy. We love lamb and eat it with some regularity and I’m definitely adding this to my repertoire. Can’t wait to serve it to my family.

  13. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Great and easy stew Tori.

    Maybe my mouth is crazy, but I feel it needs some sweet too. Not sure if currants, raisins, grapes or dates.

    What do you think?

    I served mine over whole grain couscous.


  14. I’m making this as I type and have a quick question – do you cover the pot when it’s simmering for two hours, or leave it open? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kate. No need to cover the pot, but do make sure it’s simmering slowly on medium low or low. This way the sauce will reduce. If you feel more comfortable covering the pot, make sure it’s vented so that some of the liquid can evaporate. Keep an eye on it to make sure the liquid doesn’t reduce too much or get dry. Enjoy!

    2. Thank you for the immediate response! I can now go take a nap while my baby sleeps and the stew simmers with ease. :)

  15. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi Tori! This looks AMAZING. Thinking of doing a Sephardic theme for the second night of passover and will incorporate this!

    At 28 I’ve taken on the responsibility of cooking for all Jewish holidays as I got sick of my family ordering from Zabar’s and Fairway every year. Of course I work full time so I’m wondering if there would be a good way to do this in the crock pot while I’m at work?

  16. Exactly what I was looking for, simmilar to a local Afghan restaurant. Flavourful just make sure to simmer the meat long enough in the water. I will make this again insha Allah (God willing)

  17. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I made this yesterday exactly as described and it was absolutely delicious!! Thank you for the great recipe, I think I’ll be cooking this for years to come :)

    M – 26 x

  18. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I made this today. I did it exactly the same except I added some chopped garlic half way though cooking onions. It was YUMMY!! I served with Regular white rice as my supermarket was out of basmati still tasted good!

  19. I made this last week using a half shoulder (in one large piece, not cubed) and currently have it braising on the stove using whole shanks. Amazeballs recipe!

    1. Hi Jessica– I wouldn’t say it’s super spicy, but I am a fan of spice like you. It does have a lot of spices, but in terms of heat level it is not very hot. If you’re worried about it you can cut the hot pepper flakes in half and add more to taste, that is where the small amount of heat comes from.

    2. Thanks! I just love how involved you are with your online community. I appreciate the quick response. :)

  20. Whoo girl, this recipe is amazing! It was almost curry-like, and just mild enough for the hubby and our guests! I pureed the onions for my husbands sake (lol) and served it with Spanish style jasmine rice and a little basil. So good! :)

  21. I have a question. I only made 1 lb of lamb so I only added two and half cups of water. After an hour of low heat cooking most of the water had evaporated. So I just added tomato paste and cooked it for another ten mins. By then there was barely an sauce left. Should I have put four cups of water even though I had only one lb of meat?

    1. Hi Zeenie– yes, this is not a recipe where you can “halve” all the ingredients. You really need the full amount of sauce, even for a reduced amount of meat.

  22. I want to do this recipe with leg which has a lot of bones and less meat. Should I add the amount of sauce accordingly to the weight of the meat or cut down a little?

    1. It should be 3 pounds of meat/bones together, doesn’t matter if it’s more meat or more bones as long as the weight is 3 pounds total. I don’t think you’ll need to adjust the amount of sauce, but I usually use more meat than bones so I can’t say for certain.

    1. Yes, you can make ahead and refrigerate overnight. Skim the fat (solid white stuff) that rises to the top of the sauce, then reheat on stovetop to a simmer.

  23. I am preparing a Middle Eastern dinner for eight for this coming Saturday evening. Believe it or not, I’m using TWO of your recipes (the other is falafel). Plan to use this as the main dish. Question: you told Joana she could make the Persian stew the day before. But I need to do as much as possible as soon as possible. Could I make this today (Tuesday) and freeze it for a few nights?

    1. Hi Brian, I’ve never frozen this but most stews freeze quite well and I have to reason to think this one will be any different. If it were me I would refrigerate it first, skim off the solid fat that rises to the top of the sauce, then freeze. Enjoy!

    2. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
      Here’s my report on freezing the stew. I made it on Tuesday, refrigerated it overnight. Froze it Wednesday. On Saturday, I removed it from the freezer then thawed/heated it in the microwave. That’s all. Served it straight from the microwave. It was wonderful. We had so much food last night that not all of it was consumed, so my wife and I had leftover Persian lamb stew after church today. So good! We served it with brown basmati. Thank you for blessing the world with your talents, Tori!

  24. I am Persian, however, I’ve never seen or heard about that dish. It looks good and the style is Persian (ie. turmeric, tomato paste, onions), but it’s missing something…I’ve never seen it served just with meat. Usually, you add either eggplants (Khoresh badenjamn) or split lentils (khoresh gheymeh) or some kind of vegetable to it. Then it would be Persian. This is more “persian inspired”. But like I said… still looks good!

  25. Hi
    I saw several comments as to whether this can be made in a crockpot – but no replies. I made tis on the stove – but I don’t have the couple hours it takes to stand over it and skim while it simmers. Could you please reply to this?
    thanks so much!

    1. Hi Kristen, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in a crockpot, but there will be a lot of fat collected at the top when it’s done so you’ll need to do a lot of skimming. Also I can’t give you an exact measurement on liquid or time because I haven’t done it myself. I don’t like to give advice unless I’ve actually tried it myself, which is why I haven’t previously answered this question. If you give it a try please let us know how it works for you.

  26. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I recently did this recipe for our Seder (second year in a row, and still a hit!) and honestly, I want this dish more than once a year. Lol. Lamb is so expensive… I was wondering if you think a substitution of chicken or steak would work? Would I need to switch out any spices to cater to the diff meats and/it change cook time? Love this recipe!

    1. Hi Jessica, I’ve also made this recipe with beef stew meat with good results. It’s not quite as tasty as lamb in this particular preparation, but still very good.

  27. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I just have to say that this dish has become our family favourite. My eight year old son requests this every week and sometimes even twice. Please keep recipes like this coming.

  28. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I made this as a surprise for my wife. This was a great recipe! I added to the spices because I am from the southwest and we love heat. All I can say is WOW!

    1. Hi Julie, I’ve never tried this with chicken so not sure what modifications might need to be made. If you decide to try it, you might try bone-in chicken and slowly simmering until the meat is very tender. Good luck!

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