Give this recipe for Azerbaijan's national dish a go. Saffron rice is topped with meltingly tender lamb, slow cooked with a range of ingredients including dried apricots, dried chestnuts and cumin






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (64 votes)


  • 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil 
  • 1.8 kg lamb leg, deboned, cut into 5 cm pieces 
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
  • 4 carrots, chopped 
  • 3 large onions, chopped 
  • 3 tsp ground cumin 
  • 200 g dried apricots 
  • 155 g (1 cup) dried chestnuts (see Note)
  • 500 g (2½ cups) long-grain rice 
  • 1 tsp saffron threads 
  • 500 ml (2 cups) beef stock 
  • flat-leaf parsley, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add lamb and cook for 4 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a bowl. Add garlic, carrots and onions to pan and cook for 6 minutes or until golden. Stir in cumin, apricots, chestnuts and 750 ml water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 1 hour or until lamb is tender.

Meanwhile, soak rice in 1 litre salted water for 30 minutes. Drain, stir in saffron and transfer to a saucepan. Add stock and 125 ml water, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat and stand for 10 minutes. Spoon rice onto a platter and serve topped with lamb mixture and parsley.

Dried chestnuts are available from Asian food shops and selected delis.

DRINK 2010 Coriole Barbera, McLaren Vale ($30)

As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 10, pg80.

Photography by Brett Stevens.