I learnt to make Machboos Laham (as it’s properly known) way back when I was a teenager in Kuwait at a friends grandmothers house. I’d watch all the women in the kitchen chop meat and vegetables while gossiping. We’d all sit together eating while drinking Laban (Buttermilk). It became an instant favourite of mine over the years and to me, it’s the greatest comfort food… EVER!
Machboos is a typical Northern Gulf dish but the recipe differs depending on country, neighbourhood and family. Everyone has their own favourite way to make Machboos, there is no right way or wrong way. Machboos isn’t just created with Lamb, other meats such as Mutton and Chicken are used as well as Fish. It’s an extremely simple dish to create and has a wonderful combination of flavours. Indian Spices feature heavily in Kuwaiti Cooking, in fact, the cuisine is a fusion of Persian, India, Mediterranean and not to mention other Gulf countries.
So 15 years after I was taught how to make this dish, I’m now going to teach you all. I have tweaked my recipe over the years and will probably have my Kuwaiti friends scream at me but it’s the way I like it.
- 3 kg lamb shanks (I got 3, 1kg ones)
- 4 cups basmati rice
- 6 cups water
- 2 tbs finely chopped onion
- 2 tbs ghee or vegetable oil
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 8 cardamom pods
- 8 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbs saffron strands
- 1/4 cup rose water
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 tbs salt
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1 tbs garam masala
- 1 tbs ghee or vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 5 tomatoes chopped
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 2 tbs vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- Soak rice in water, wash gently and drain to dry. Wash lamb shank(s) carefully and rub with turmeric powder and a bit of salt. Marinate for 30 minutes, then wash again.
- Heat oil in deep pot. Fry onion, cinnamon sticks, cardamom, cloves, and bay leaf quickly and then add lamb. Stir until browned completely and cover for 10 minutes. Add 6 cups boiling water, bring to a boil. Lower heat and leave to simmer for 2 hours. Make sure the water doesnt dry out. It is ok if the water doesn't cover the meat, it will still cook the meat while occasionally stirring. When done remove lamb from the broth.
- In a small cup add heated rose weater, saffron and cardamom powder.
- Meanwhile fry the hashoo mix in a pan over a low heat until the onions become deep brown and set aside.
- For the daqous, in a small sauce pan heat oil and quickly fry garlic and mix in the tomatoes. Simmer and cover for 10 minutes. Mix in tomato paste, paprika and salt and simmer for a further 10 minutes. If you'd like a thinner consistency, add more water to dilute it down.
- In another deep pot, heat oil and add the washed and soaked basmati rice. Fry for 3 minutes until oil is fully soaked into the rice. Pour the lamb broth on the rice. Make sure the broth is approximately an inch above the rice level. Add 2 tbs oil and 1 1/2 tbs salt. Stir gently once (& only once!), bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes, ensuring it doesn't burn.
- Fry lamb again with vegetable oil and garam masala for 3 minutes.
- When the rice is done, pour the rose water and saffron mixture into the rice, add the lamb shanks on top with the hashoo on the side. Cover and let it rest on very low heat for around 30 minutes to allow the flavours to develop.
- Serve rice, lamb and hashoo together with some daqoos on the side.
This recipe is perfect for leftovers. I usually eat this for lunch the day after and/or freeze batches for future meals.