• Nadem’s lamb kabsah (Chris Phillips / Jimmy Shu’s Taste of the Territory)Source: Chris Phillips / Jimmy Shu’s Taste of the Territory

Nadeem’s kabsah – a fragrant rice and meat dish popular in many places in the Persian Gulf - is inspired by Arabic journeys along the Silk Road. When the Arabic people began travelling from the Middle East to Asia, they returned home with new spices, gradually adding them to their traditional dishes.






Skill level

Average: 4.2 (77 votes)



  • 2 kg lamb shanks
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • ½ nutmeg seed
  • 1 whole dried black lime (loomi) (see Note)
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated (or 1 tsp dry ground ginger)
  • ½ cup capsicum, finely diced
  • 5 tomatoes, peeled and diced (or a 400g tin of diced tomatoes)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • Rind of half an orange, sliced
  • 1 tbsp salt 


  • 1 kg basmati rice
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • ½ nutmeg seed
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • Reserved lamb shank ‘stock’
  • Juice of one orange
  • 1 cup roasted cashews, to garnish
  • 1 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped, to garnish
  • 1 piece of coal, tin foil and vegetable oil (optional)

Sauce, to serve

  • 3 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 hot chilli
  • ½ cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup coriander leaves

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.


The following recipe has been edited and may differ slightly from the video.
1. For the lamb, place lamb shanks into a large pot and cover with water. Simmer for 10 minutes or until a white foam appears on the top. Remove the meat and discard the water.
2. In a clean large pot heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add lamb shanks and cook, turning, until browned on all sides. Remove from the pot, then add all the whole spices and toast until fragrant. Next, add the onion, garlic and ginger and fry off. Then add the capsicum, peeled tomatoes, tomato paste, orange rind and 1½ litres of water. Bring to the boil. Return the lamb shanks along with salt to the pot. Make sure the shanks are nearly submerged in liquid; if not, add a little boiling water. 
3. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until meat is tender and nearly falling off the bone. 
4. Meanwhile, soak rice in a large bowl for 20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Combine all spices for the rice in an electric grinder and grind to a fine powder, then set aside.
5. Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a blender and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside for serving.
6. Remove the shanks, reserving the remaining ‘stock’ to cook the rice. Strain to remove whole spices.
7. For the rice, heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan on medium heat and add grated carrot. When the carrot has changed to a slightly darker colour, add the rice and stir until combined. Add enough reserved ‘stock’ to cover the rice, along with the spice mix and orange juice. Stir well. If the liquid does not cover the rice, add enough boiling water so it covers 2 cm above, but no higher. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer on very low heat for 10-15 minutes or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Turn off and stand for an additional 10 minutes as-is, or following the optional next step.
8. To smoke the rice, heat a piece of coal over a gas burner on your stove until it glows red. Mould a small bowl out of tin foil with enough space for the coal and pour in a little oil. Sit the foil bowl on top of the cooked rice, then place hot coal into the bowl. Cover and stand for 10 minutes.
8. To serve, place rice on a large platter, arrange the lamb on top of the rice and garnish with fresh coriander and cashews. Serve sauce separately. 
• The loomi, or black lime, is a traditional ingredient in Arabic food. It has an earthy citrus flavour and can be found at most Arabic or Indian grocery stores.

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