Babylonian Lamb and Carob Stew


Buttery-soft and delectable halal lamb fresh from the farm is spiced with ground coriander and cumin seeds and sauteed in light sesame oil.  The shallots are added and lightly caramelized.  The stew is then given an incredible depth of flavor by the addition of ground carob powder.  Then it is lifted by the addition of leeks and garlic mashed with whole milk yogurt and served on a bed of semolina couscous cooked and steamed over homespun lamb stock.  As superb today as it was almost 4,000 years ago.

Recipe” XIX on Yale Babylonian Culinary Tablet 25


Babylonian Lamb and Carob Stew



  • 1-1.3 pound lamb roast, cut into bitesize pieces
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, freshly ground
  • 3 teaspoons cumin seed, freshly ground
  • 2-3 tablespoons light sesame oil (gingelly)
  • 6 medium shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 -3 cups of water
  • 2-3 generous tablespoons of carob powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 leek (both white and green parts), carefully cleaned and rinsed
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup of yogurt


Serve over couscous – cooked separately as desired.


Flavor lamb with half of the ground coriander seeds and about 1 teaspoon of ground cumin seeds. Massage the spices around and into the meat as possible. Let stand for several hours or overnight to really flavor the meat.

Heat light sesame oil in a large saucepan and sear the seasoned lamb until opaque and just beginning to color around the edges. Reduce heat, remove meat from pan and set aside. Add sliced shallots and cook over low heat until the start to caramelize. Caramelization will happen more quickly if you don’t stir or otherwise disturb the shallots too much.

When shallots are done to your liking, add the remainder of the ground coriander and cumin seed and cook to warm the spices, 3-5 minutes. When spices are warm and aromatic, add water. (Start with 2 cups and add more if needed or desired after the meat is added.) Cook to warm water. When water is hot, add meat and stir. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes to bring the meat up to temperature. Add carob powder and salt and stir well. if the carob clumps, break it up. Recover and cook over medium or medium-low heat until the lamb is soft, stirring occasionally. The exact amount of time will depend on how large you cubed the lamb but should be about 40 minutes or so. Watch the heat so that the lamb doesn’t burn, lower heat if necessary.

Prepare couscous as desired while the lamb is cooking.

When the lamb has almost softened, uncover and cook for about 5- 10 minutes. In a food processor, pulse the leek and garlic until a diced vegetable is achieved. Add yogurt and pulse once or twice more to mix. Don’t blend until mush, the crunch of the vegetable is desired.

Add to the stew and stir well. Cook uncovered stirring occasionally until stew is hot once again. Serve over couscous and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Enjoy this delicious Babylonian lamb and carob stew!

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