Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lamb Kabouli - Cuisine of Oman

A month ago, the Walima group explored the country of Oman as part of the Middle Eastern Cooking Challenge and this layered rice and lamb dish was the featured Omani dish.

I will plead ignorance on Oman, I only knew of it as a tiny country in the south of the Middle East, I had heard of its capital city Muscat through a cousin who used to live there....And that's about it. When reading up on it recently, I was fascinated to find out that Oman actually used to rule Zanzibar (and parts of East Africa) and as a result was a strong player in the lucrative spice trade that emanated from that region.

But far more pressing issues were on my plate. As in, where the heck do I get lamb?

Fearless readers, I have never sourced, procured or cooked lamb before. In.My.Life.

So this was a supreme challenge for me, because I couldn't find this meat. Not at the local grocers. Not at Whole Foods. (Shock! Horror!). Not at the Asian meat market, where I got into an elaborate discussion complete with hand gestures with a fellow customer who insisted lamb was goat. He refused to believe lamb was potentially from the same animal that his wool sweater was from. I hear 'ya. especially with that sweater, dude.

So who came to the rescue?
Super Target. Tarzhay.
Yes! The same place where you can pick up socks, garden hoses and an Isaac Mizrahi dress offered me a tiny portion of lamb.
And the challenge ensued...

I followed
Yasmeen's preparation to the T, because I much fancied her way of cooking the lamb in oil with the spices and onions, as opposed to cooking the meat in seasoned water as originally suggested. Which may have technically transported this Lamb Kabouli from Oman to the Northern plains of Moghul India.
Much apologies....

Thanks to Arlette of Phoenician Gourmet for spearheading the challenge! I will definitely make this dish again....Now that I know where to get lamb from....

Lamb Kabouli (adapted for quantities and method from
Yasmeen of Health Nut and Walima Challenge)

Step 1: Prepare Omani Spice Mix (Omani Bizar A’Shuwa)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, crushed
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
1 heaped tsp coriander seeds
1 heaped tsp cardamom seeds
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
About 2 Tbs distilled vinegar

Combine all ingredients in an electric food processor and process until a thick paste is formed, use vinegar sparingly as it can make the overall taste too acidic Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Step 2: Prepare Lamb
1 lb lamb, cut in small pieces, visible fat removed
1.5 cups white Basmati rice
2 cups (Medium size can) cooked chickpeas
Whole Spices:
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole cardamom pods
3-4 cloves
1 tsp peppercorn, lightly crushed
1 large onion, chopped fine
Omani Spice mix (above)
1/2 tsp saffron strands
Salt (to taste)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup stock or water

1. Heat oil in non-stick pan.
2. Saute onions and half of the whole spices. When onions start to brown, add the prepared Omani spice mix.
3. Add lamb to the pan and mix with all the spices. Add 1 cup stock or water, cover pan and allow to cook till meat is tender. Depending on the cut of meat, it may take up to 30 minutes on medium heat.
4. When meat is done, add in chickpeas and incorporate.

Step 3: Cook Rice and Layer Meat1. Rinse and drain Basmati rice.
2. Bring 3 cups of water (add a large pinch of salt and remaining whole spices) to boil in another large pan. Add in rice and cook till rice is fluffy.
3. When rice is done, add lamb and chickpeas into the pot. Cover and remove from heat. After about 10 minutes, open pan and carefully mix together the meat and rice.
4. Serve.


Lena Rashmin Raj said...

wowwww..this is awesome.. amazing photography..im so sad that i missed this blog till now.. :(

Urs....Jina said...

That looks yummy. Tell me how much time does it all take??

Sig said...

That looks so good! But I am surprised to hear that you couldn't find lamb anywhere!Normally lamb is available at Whole Foods, Safeway, Chinese markets etc and goat is what we can never find! Goat is only available at the Desi Halal meat stores here.

Ann said...

@ Sig - Our cities must be in reverse. I found Goat EVERYWHERE, but no lamb. Seriously, I was beginning to think if it is a "seasonal" meat.

@Urs Jina - I'd say you can get this dish out in about an hour - 5 min for spice mix, 30-40 min for the lamb, 10-15 min for the rice. Note, I cooked with only 1 pound of meat which isn't much...
You could also be REALLY efficient and cook the rice at the same time as the meat. I wasn't that smart....