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Persian lamb with rhubarb and chelow

You'll need

50 ml olive oil 30 gm butter 1.5 kg boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 3cm cubes 3 onions, thinly sliced 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 2 tsp ground coriander 1 tsp ground cumin ½ tsp ground cinnamon ¼ tsp saffron threads 1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock 200 gm rhubarb, trimmed and thickly sliced diagonally Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste To serve: coarsely chopped mint and coriander   Chelow 300 gm (1½ cups) basmati rice, soaked in cold water for 2 hours 2 tbsp thick plain yoghurt 140 ml olive oil ¼ tsp saffron threads, soaked in 2 tbsp hot water


  • 01
  • Heat olive oil and butter in a casserole until foaming, add lamb in batches and stir occasionally until browned (4-5 minutes), transfer to a plate and set aside. Add onion and garlic to pan, stir occasionally until beginning to caramelise (10-12 minutes), then add spices and stir until fragrant. Return lamb to pan, add stock and 500ml water, season to taste and bring to the simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer gently until meat is very tender (2-3 hours). Add rhubarb, simmer until just tender (4-5 minutes), remove from heat, add lemon juice, adjust seasoning to taste. Keep warm.
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for chelow, drain rice and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear (3-4 minutes). Bring 1 litre salted water to the boil in a large saucepan, add rice and cook, stirring once or twice, for 10 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse under lukewarm water, then drain again. Combine yoghurt, 60ml oil, ½ tbsp saffron mixture and 60ml water in a bowl, stir in ½ cup rice and spread in the base of a large saucepan with a lid. Gently mound the remaining rice on top, forming a pyramid. Cover with lid and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Combine remaining oil, saffron mixture and 250ml cold water in a jug, pour over rice, and cover with a tea towel then the lid. Reduce heat to low and cook for 50 minutes (do not stir or remove lid). Stand for 10 minutes, then serve with lamb, scattered with mint and coriander.

Lamb and rhubarb may seem like an unusual combination, but the natural tartness of the rhubarb cuts through the richness of this fall-apart, fragrant lamb stew, much like the addition of preserved lemon would. Chelow is a traditional Iranian rice dish - it may take a few tries to master, but even if you're not entirely successful, it'll still be delicious

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Featured in

Jun 2011

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