White figs have a very sweet flavour, more so than their more mellow siblings, lending this dish a warm, comforting flavour with melt-in-the-mouth lamb.






Skill level

Average: 3 (148 votes)


  • 1 boneless lamb shoulder, (about 2.2 kg)
  • 5 brown onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 lemons, rind removed in wide strips
  • 1 bunch coriander, roots, stalks and leaves, washed well
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • large pinch toasted cumin seeds
  • large pinch toasted coriander
  • large pinch isot pepper (black Aleppo pepper)
  • 2 litres hot chicken stock
  • 200 g white Iranian figs, soaked in room temperature water 1-2 hours
  • 200 g cooked chickpeas
  • Tachin (Persian smoked rice), to serve (recipe here)

Lamb rub

  • 150 g peeled garlic cloves
  • large pinch salt
  • 30 g cumin seeds, toasted
  • 30 g coriander seeds, toasted
  • 10 g isot pepper (black Aleppo pepper)
  • 30 g sumac
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

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.


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. For the lamb rub, place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz to form a smooth paste, adding a little warm water if necessary to help it blitz. Alternatively grind in a mortar and pestle.
  3. Score the lamb shoulder on both sides, then rub the paste all over the meat. Place the sliced onions in a large baking dish. Scatter with the lemon rind, coriander roots and stalks and the spices to build a base for the lamb to sit on. Place the lamb on top and pour enough of the chicken stock around the lamb to come half-way up the side of the lamb. Cover the lamb with a piece of baking paper, then cover the dish tightly in foil. Bake for 2½-3 hours or until tender.
  4. Melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add rice mixture to the pan, lightly packing the rice down. Wrap a clean, dry kitchen cloth securely around and under the lid of the pan, so no steam escapes, then place the lid on the pan. Cook over low-medium heat, without stirring or uncovering, for 20-30 minutes. The rice should be tender on top with a golden crust formed on the bottom. Loosen the rice crust with a rubber spatula around the edges. Place a plate over the top of the pan and invert the rice onto the plate.
  5. When the lamb is tender, remove the foil, season with salt and scatter the figs and chickpeas around the lamb. Roast for another 30 minutes or until caramelised and the meat is meltingly tender.
  6. Remove the lamb from the oven, then remove and discard the cinnamon sticks, lemon rind and coriander stalks. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with the smoked rice.


Join Shane Delia and friends for A Middle East Feast on SBS Food and SBS On Demand.