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Lamb with saffron – Havaskar qovurmasi

Havaskar qovurmasi - Lamb with saffron
This dish combines two classic Azerbaijani ingredients, lamb and saffron, while two more, chestnuts and pomegranates, are an optional extra.

The word “qovurma” in the name of a dish (“kavurma” in Turkish) means that it contains fried or roast meat. The full name of this dish – həvəskar qovurması – translates literally as “choice fried meat”.

Preparation time: 20 min
Cooking time: 40-45 min
Serves: 2-3


  • 300 g/12 oz mutton or lamb
  • 25 g/1 oz clarified butter
  • 1 large onion
  • 125 g/7 oz shelled chestnuts (optional)
  • 50 g/2 oz pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • 100 g/4 oz tomatoes (if not using pomegranate)
  • 500-750 ml/1-1.5 pints meat stock
  • a few threads of saffron
  • salt & pepper


  • Put a few threads of saffron in a cup and add boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse.
  • Pierce the chestnuts, if using. Cover with water in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the water and shell. Don’t take all the chestnuts out of the water at once, as they are difficult to shell when dry.
  • Break up the lamb into 40-50 gram/2 oz pieces. Add salt & pepper.
  • Finely chop the onion and fry in a deep frying pan for 2-3 minutes in the clarified butter. Add the lamb and brown for 5-8 minutes.
  • Add the stock, saffron infusion and shelled chestnuts (if using) so that the meat is covered. Stew until the meat is cooked, usually between 30 to 40 minutes.
  • If using pomegranate, separate out the seeds from 1 pomegranate and add to the meat 5 minutes before it is ready (the seeds should be crunchy when the dish is served).
  • If using tomatoes, halve the tomatoes and fry separately in butter. Garnish the lamb with the tomatoes to serve.

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