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Persian Lamb Stew with Dried Apricots

Source: Raghavan Iyer, cookbook author and culinary instructor, Category: Lunch & Snack, Dinner & Main Course

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This is Iyer’s version of a classic Persian lamb stew, which adds and subtracts several ingredients while keeping the dish’s essence intact. Heat-tolerant canola oil is ideal for browning the onion, lamb and apricots before their spice bath. Serve the stew with steamed basmati rice or pass along a basket of warm pita to mop up all that wonderful sauce.



  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped firmly packed fresh mint leaves 60 mL
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger 30 mL
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped garlic cloves 30 mL
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt 7 mL
  • 1 tsp cumin 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 2 mL
  • 1 1/4 lbs boneless leg of lamb, fat trimmed off and discarded, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes 625 g
  • 1/4 cup canola oil 60 mL
  • 4 cups finely chopped red onion 1 L
  • 1 cup dried apricots 250 mL
  • 1 cup water 250 mL
  • 1 Tbsp firmly packed dark brown sugar 15 mL
  • 2 Tbsp malt or cider vinegar 30 mL
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems 60 mL 


  1. In medium bowl, combine mint and all spices; mix well. Add lamb and toss to coat with marinade rub. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes or overnight, to allow meat to absorb flavors. 
  2. Preheat wok, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Drizzle canola oil down its sides. As soon as oil forms shimmering pool at bottom, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, stewing onion in its own juices, about 5 minutes. Once liquid evaporates, reduce heat to medium and stir-fry until onion turns honey-brown with deep purple hue, 15 to 20 minutes. 
  3. Add lamb and apricots and raise heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring frequently, until meat sears and starts to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Some canola oil will separate from onion and lamb, and glisten on top of mixture. Apricots will start to soften a bit. 
  4. Add water and stir once or twice. Once mixture boils, almost instantaneously, reduce heat to medium-low, cover wok and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lamb is fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer lamb, apricots and onion to serving bowl and leave behind some sauce in wok. 
  5. Stir brown sugar into wok. Heat from sauce will melt sugar. Pour sauce over lamb and stir in vinegar. Sprinkle cilantro over stew and serve. 

Yield: 8 servings. Serving Size: 1 cup.

 Nutritional Analysis
Per Serving
Calories 260
Total Fat 12 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Cholesterol 55 mg
Sodium 510 mg
Carbohydrates 22 g
Fibre 3 g
Protein 19 g


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