Slow-Cooked Lamb & Rice: A Classic Middle-Eastern Dish
Image Credit: Shutterstock, Lamb rice

Foods served during significant events elicit feeling. You are immediately transported back to enjoyable family get-togethers and festive events by the aroma, flavour, and appearance. They bring back pleasant memories and significant individuals. For Yemenis, the dish Zurbian—a fragrant combination of meat and rice—evokes these emotions. It's been done for ages to cook meat, rice, and spices together. 

This ubiquitous cuisine has been evolved by numerous cultures all over the world. Similar meat-and-rice meals with distinctive regional flavours include paella in Spain, pilau in South Asia, and biryani in India and the Middle East. Zurbian is a Yemeni interpretation of this dish. 

Zurbian is frequently cooked for special occasions because of its mouthwatering flavour and vibrant yellow hue. Many religious celebrations and weddings provide this dish. In addition to being delicious, zurbian is also simple to make and the recipe is adaptable to different group sizes. This traditional Yemeni meal is made by simmering lamb or another type of meat in a tomato, yoghurt, and spice sauce. The meat is topped with the rice. The dish's beautiful yellow colour comes from saffron water poured on the rice, and its appealing flavour comes from cardamom, turmeric, coriander, cilantro, and cinnamon.

Source: Shutterstock

One of the tastiest lamb and rice recipes you'll ever try is Yemeni Zurbian. Simmered spiced lamb is piled with potatoes, two types of rice, and crispy fried onions before being braised until it is soft. It becomes impossible to refuse once slathered in the Spicy Zoug chilli sauce.



    2 tbsp cumin 

    2 tsp black peppercorns 

    2 tsp green cardamom 

    1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds 

    1/4 Tsp cloves 

    1 Inch piece of cinnamon

Braised Lamb: 

    2 Kg lamb shoulder 

    350g onions 

    350g tomatoes 

    8 garlic cloves 

    4 bay leaves 

    3 tbsp hawaij 

    4 tsp salt 

    4 tbsp vegetable oil 

    1.5L lamb or beef stock 

    750g potatoes


    10 sprigs coriander 

    4 green onions 

    3 sprigs mint 

    3 green chillies 

    2 mild green peppers 

    1 plum tomato 

    1 clove garlic 

    1/2 tsp salt 

    140 ml lemon juice 

Fried onions: 

    750g onions 

    750ml vegetable Oil 

White Rice: 

    3 cloves 

    2-3 bay leaves 

    2 1/2 cups basmati rice 

    1 tbsp onion oil 

    1 tsp salt 

    1/2 tsp peppercorns 

    Pinch of saffron

Lamb Spiced Rice: 

    1 1/2 cups basmati rice 

    50g yogurt 

    Green liquid from Sahawiq 

    Lamb stock


To prepare the meat:

1.     Make a paste out of the salt, Hawaij, and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and then coat the meat with it.

2.     Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a pan, then sear the meat in it until it is evenly browned on both sides.

3.    After adding 1 Tbsp. of oil to the pan, place the meat in the braising vessel.

4.    Chop the tomatoes and onions into small pieces, and slice the garlic thinly. Add them to the pan, then deglaze it with the liquid.

5.    Cook the vegetables until they begin to turn caramelised, then distribute them equally over the meat.

6.    Cover the meat with stock and add the bay leaves. Until the meat is tender, bake at 180°C for 2.5 to 3 hours.

7.     After the meal is finished, add the potatoes and simmer for a further 45 minutes.

To make the Sahawiq:

1.     Chop the vegetables roughly before adding them to a blender or food processor along with the salt.

2.    Process until very finely chopped, then transfer to a sieve.

3.     Wait until the liquid begins to clump together after letting most of it strain out (Keep the green liquid)

4.     Include the vegetables with the lemon juice and store in the fridge until needed.

To make the fried onions:

1.    Cut the onions into extremely thin slices and then put them in a chilly pan.

2.    When the oil reaches frying temperature, pour it over the onions and increase the heat to high.

3.    Once the onions are sufficiently browned, remove them, drain them, and then set them on paper towels.

4.     Change the towels after they become oil-soaked and salt them while they are still hot.

To make the white rice:

1.    Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, then add the oil and spices (saffron is not included).

2.    Thoroughly wash your rice, add to the saucepan, and boil for 5 minutes.

3.    After the rice is cooked, drain it to get rid of all the liquid.

To make the spiced rice:

1.     Remove all of the meat and potatoes from the braising dish, but keep the liquid.

2.    Stir the stock thoroughly after adding the yoghurt and green liquid.

3.     Add the rice to the pot, give it a thorough wash, and bring to a boil.

4.    four) Boil for five minutes, then strain

To assemble:

1.     Pour some boiling water over the saffron in a small bowl. Mix it up and let it sit for a moment.

2.     Take the pieces of meat out of the casserole and arrange them on top of the potatoes.

3.     Add the brown rice and distribute it evenly.

4.     Add the white rice and distribute it evenly. Then, add the saffron.

5.    Reinstall the lid and bake for an additional hour.

To serve, turn the pot upside down or arrange the rice, pork, and fried onions and almonds in the pot.