Source: Raghavan Iyer, cookbook author and culinary instructor | Category: Entrees

Persian Lamb Stew with Dried Apricots

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.

Persian Lamb Stew with Dried Apricots


  • 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. 


8 servings

serving size

1 cup

nutritional analysis

Per Serving

Total Fat12 g
Saturated Fat2 g
Cholesterol55 mg
Carbohydrates22 g
Fiber3 g
Protein19 g
Sodium510 mg