This is one of those exotic dishes that looks and tastes like you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen for hours…but actually, very little active effort is required! Simple to make with everyday ingredients. The lamb is packed with flavour, juicy on the inside and golden brown and crispy on the outside!
My family always gives me grief about how often I make Middle Eastern dishes for family dinners. Or, as they usually say, “Middle Eastern inspired” dishes. Hmph! I don’t think I make that many Middle Eastern dishes. Though….I just remembered….I do have an entire Middle Eastern recipes collection on my blog!
Well, there’s a good reason for it! I love food with big flavours and Middle Eastern food is loaded with flavour. And I love that most of the spices are everyday ones that I always have in my pantry – like cumin, coriander, cinnamon, paprika and cardamon, to name a few.
Lamb is probably the most popular protein in Middle Eastern cuisine. The aromatic spices of the Middle East pair perfectly with the strong flavours of lamb. I’ve never actually come across a shredded Middle Eastern lamb recipe before, and that puzzles me. Because this is really scrumptious. I mean, REALLY scrumptious. Look at the gorgeous caramelisation on the lamb! Can you imagine the taste of the pan fried crispy edges, the heady exotic spices and the juicy lamb??
Though this recipe is a “from scratch” creation so it’s not an authentic recipe (as far as I know), the ingredients I use are drawn from classic Middle Eastern recipes. The preparation of the lamb is super fast, around 10 minutes to get it into the oven. I’ve also provided directions to make this in a slow cooker.
Don’t skip the browning step!! It is key!! It really makes all the difference, so please, please, please do not skip it!
– Nagi x
PS I know I’ve talked a lot about the lamb and not much about the rice….here’s a nice close up of it! It is so much yummier than just plain rice. It’s got just a touch of spices, not too much because otherwise the flavour is too similar to the lamb. 🙂
- 1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 1/2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp ground cardamon or sub with ginger
- 1 tbsp salt
- Black pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1.5 - 2 kg / 3 - 4 lb lamb shoulder bone in, trimmed of excess fat
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 - 2 tbsp olive oil
- Lemon highly recommended
- Fresh coriander/cilantro leaves optional - recommended
- Yoghurt optional
Preheat oven to 150C/300F.
Combine the Spice Mix ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside 1 1/2 tbsp of the Spice Mix for later (to pan fry the lamb).
Add the olive oil and garlic into the Spice Mix, then rub all over the lamb.
Place the lamb on a roasting rack set in a roasting dish (Note 1). Pour the water in the base of the dish. Cover with a lid or double layer of foil.
Roast for 3 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender enough to pull off with a fork.
Remove the lid. Turn the oven up as high as it will go and roast for 15 - 20 minutes until the lamb is browned.
Remove the lamb from the oven. Allow to rest for 20 minutes, then shred coarsely with two forks.
Skim excess fat off the juices in the roasting dish then set aside. (Note 2)
Toss the shredded lamb with the reserved Spice Mix (from Step 2 above).
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a heavy based pan over high heat. Add some lamb (don't crowd the pan) and drizzle over about 3 tbsp of the pan juices. Cook until the underside is dark golden brown and crispy - about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes (the juices you poured over will evaporate).
If the lamb is cold, flip to warm the other side but do not brown too much (retains juiciness).
Remove lamb from the fry pan, and repeat with remaining lamb, adding extra oil if required.
To serve, drizzle with a squeeze of lemon juice (this makes a big difference) and top with fresh coriander, plus yoghurt (if using). Serve on Chickpea Pilaf (Rice).
1. You can use a couple of onions, halved, to elevate the lamb if you don't have a rack for your roasting dish.
2. If making ahead, stop at this step. Allow the shredded lamb to cool then divide into serving size portions and freeze in ziplock bags. Store the liquid separately, also in serving size portions.
3. SLOW COOKER instructions: I prefer making this in the oven because the lamb gets a better crust but it can be made in the slow cooker too. The pan frying makes up for the browning you don't get. To make this in a slow cooker, slow cook on HIGH for 6 hours and only use 1/4 cup water. No need to elevate the lamb off the base.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 1/2 cups long grain rice or basmati
- 2 cans of chickpeas 800g/28oz, drained
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp garam masala powder or curry powder or 1/2 tsp coriander + 1/2 tsp all spice
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.
Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent - around 3 minutes.
Add the rice and stir until the rice becomes translucent, coated with the oil.
Add remaining ingredients. Place the lid on and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Remove from the stove, leaving the lid on, and set aside to reset for 10 minutes.
Fluff the rice up with a fork and serve with the Middle Eastern Shredded Lamb.