Afghani Lamb


(Pronounced like "gourmet" with a "K")

As a woman from Haret, Afghanistan, taught Lindsay Sterling in Maine. 

Serves: 6-8
Cooking time: 30min-1 hr
Active time: 20 minutes


  • 4 yellow onions sliced into crescent moons
  • 3 pounds deboned lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 3" chunks
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp Doordooah spice mixture (equal parts black cardamon, turmeric, cloves, and cinnamon, blended in a spice grinder) 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • enough flexible flatbread, such as naan, chapati, or pita for everyone eating


  • Pressure cooker or soup pot
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • coffee grinder dedicated to grinding spices  
  • can opener
  • small empty jar with lid to hold extra spice mixture 
  • measuring cups and spoons (or just eyeball it)
  • serving dish for stew
  • serving platter for bread
  • serving spoon


Blend all Doordooah spices in a spice blender (a.k.a. a coffee grinder dedicated to grinding spices). You'll make more than you need for this dish. Store the extra in spice jar and this recipe will be even easier next time. 

Cut onions into crescent moons and put in a large soup pot or pressure cooker. 

Cut the lamb you have into 3" chunks (if the butcher hasn't done this already for you). Rinse lamb with cold water and put in pot. Wash cutting board, hands, and knife and anything else that touched raw meat with soapy water. 

Add oil, turmeric, Doordooah spice, salt, and one half cup water. Cover and cook on medium high until onions have disintegrated into a thick stew and the lamb is tender. If you are using a regular soup pot, add more water as necessary so that your lamb ends up tender with a sauce of disintegrated onions among it. This will take about an hour for lamb leg, longer for shoulder meat.  In a pressure cooker, this should take about 20 minutes under pressure. 

Shave tomato into thin wedges and add tomato pieces to pot. Stir in tomato paste, cover and cook another 5 minutes more. She said you can also add cooked chickpeas and potato chunks here if you like, but we both liked the dish just meat and sauce.

In Afghanistan the dish is served without silverware and guests use pieces of flatbread to scoop up bites. Flatbreads like Tandor, Nan and Iraqi bread would be closest to what's served in Afghanistan. If you'd rather use silverware, serve in a bowl as you would a stew with bread on the side.