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.




Azerbaijani Lamb Soup


As Zemfira and Tarlan Ahmadov from Baku, Azerbaijan, showed Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. 

Serves: 10 as a first course
Cooking Time: 2 hours
Perfect with: Azerbaijani beef with chestnutsyellow rice, fresh vegetable platter, and a small bowl of pickled vegetables


  • 1 pound ground lamb (preferably not super lean)
  • 1/2 tsp salt + more to taste
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • water
  • dash turmeric
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black eyed peas or kidney beans (if using canned, use 1 can strained and rinsed)
  • dried mint
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar


1. Make lamb meatballs. Fine dice half an onion, mix into ground lamb with a little salt, and form meatballs that are about the diameter of a quarter. Simmer the meatballs gently in water (which becomes the broth of your soup) for forty minutes, discarding foam or oils that rise to the top with a spoon.

2. Make fresh pasta by hand. It's easy once you know how to do it. In a large mixing bowl make a well in 3 cups flour and fill it with one egg. Mix the egg with your pointer finger around and around faster than meets the eye. Then once the egg is mixed start widening the circle you're drawing with your finger to incorporate flour from the edges of the well. As you do this, pour water slowly from a cup into the egg mixture, allowing you to continue mixing your wet whirl into the dry flour around it until you have a dry dough that is soft and pliable. Continue folding the dough on top of itself so that it's uniform.

3. Split the dough into three equal sized balls. Make them nice and round by pulling the edges of each ball and pressing them into the bottom of it. Let the three balls rest in the center of the flour bowl, covered with a cloth for twenty minutes.

4. On a clear table or counter top, pat one of the balls of dough into a circle. Then roll it out with a rolling pin into a large thin sheet. You'll need to sprinkle flour liberally on the dough as you are rolling it out.  Also, intermittently lift the sheet off the counter and flour the other side.

5. Once you have a nice big thin sheet about the thickness of a piece of construction paper, fold the outside edges of the sheet into the middle, and then fold the shape in half making the crease where the edges are. Now you have a really long rectangle. Shorten the rectangle by folding it in half again.

6. Cut across this packet into thin strips with a chef knife, making fresh pasta. To help cut parrallel lines (making noodles with even width) use the hand not holding the knife as a guide. What I mean is: stick the elbow of the hand not holding the knife out in front of you. Then put that hand along the short length of the dough to visually guide the parallel line where to cut across the dough. 

7. Once you've cut the noodles, toss the noodles so they're dusted in flour and stay separate from each other. Repeat with the other two dough balls.

8. Turn the soup to medium high. When it's simmering, add black eyed peas, a dash of turmeric, and a couple handfuls of fresh pasta. Reserve the rest of the pasta, covered in the fridge, for any fresh pasta dish you like tomorrow. 

9. When pasta's done and the soup has slightly thickened from the pasta starch, it's done. Sprinkle each bowl with dried mint. Serve with small vessel of balsamic for people to drizzle on top.




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