Algerian lamb stew

This is a recipe that I have been cooking for 20 yrs. There is nothing better on a cold winter day than a hearty stew cooked in the Bulgarian earthen pot.

serves: 8-12        difficulty: medium      prep time: 4 hrs


  • 4-5 lbs lamb. The original recipe calls for lamb shanks which may be difficult to find. Any other cut of lamb would do.
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2-3 medium or 2 large yellow onions
  • 1/3 cup peeled and crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 tbs peeled and finely minced ginger
  • 4 cardamon seeds, crushed
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbs caraway seeds
  • 2 tbs fennel seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 tbs curry powder
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cans (10 oz each) tomato puree or chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bottle (cheap) white wine
  • zest and juiced of 1 orange
  • 1 lbs carrots chopped and diced
  • 1 large fennel bulb, diced


Cut the lamb in pieces, season it with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan or a Dutch oven, and our the vegetable oil. Once it shimmers, place a few of the lamb pieces without overcrowding the pan. Turn the pieces to brown on all sides, about 3-5min total. Repeat with all the lamb pieces. Transfer to a platter.

Chop the onions, and peel the garlic.

In the same frying pan or Dutch oven used for browning the lamb, add the olive oil, chopped onions and crushed garlic cloves, and sauté until the onions are translucent.

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While the onions are frying, chop the ginger.

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Prepare and measure all the spices from the list.

Add the ginger, cardamom, caraway seed, chili flakes, cloves, fennel seed, curry and cinnamon to the onions and garlic.

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Saute for 2-3 min until all the spices become fragrant.

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Add the tomatoes and stir.

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Chop the orange zest, and juice the orange.

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Add the orange zest and orange juice to the mixture.

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Add the almonds, raisins and the bottle of white wine. Stir and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit / 200 Celsius.

Arrange the lamb in the Bulgarian earthen pot, or Dutch oven.

Pour the sauce over the lamb.

Cover with the lid and place in the oven. Simmer for 2.5 hours in the oven.

Take out of the oven. If you lamb had bones, remove the bones, which should be really easy because the meat should be falling off the bones.

Put the deboned meat back into the pot.

While the meat was cooking, chop the carrots and the fennel,

Optionally, sauté the fennel and carrots in a frying pan until they start caramelizing.

Or you can skip the above step, and place the chopped fennel and carrots in the Bulgarian earthen pot or Dutch oven.

Return the pot or Dutch oven to the oven, and without covering with a lid, and bake for another hour.  And the dish is ready to serve.

I often serve with couscous.

This is the dish served in San Francisco:

And in Sofia:

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