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Lamb stew with herbs – Sabzi qovurma

Sabzi qovurma - Lamb stew with herbs
Sabzi qovurma or lamb stew with herbs is a classic Azerbaijani dish.

Its name shows that sabzi qovurma is a blend of Persian and Turkic cooking, as "sabzi" means "green" in Persian while "qovurma" in Azerbaijani and other Turkic languages means "fried meat". The fine, complex flavours of Sabzi qovurma belie how simple it is to make. Sabzi qovurma can be served with pilaf rice or as a dish on its own with yoghurt and crushed garlic.

Preparation time: 30 min
Cooking time: 45 min
Serves: 4-5


  • 225 g/9 oz lamb
  • 50 g/2 oz butter
  • 50 g/2 oz onion
  • 1 large bunch each of sorrel, coriander, mint, dill, wild leek, young celery with leaves (and spinach or beet leaves if serving sabzi qovurma as a separate dish without rice pilaf)
  • 1-2 tspns of abgora (juice of unripe grapes) or lemon juice, if not using sorrel
  • a few threads of saffron or 1 tspn turmeric
  • salt & pepper


  • Put a few threads of saffron in a cup and add boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse.
  • Chop the lamb into chunks, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan and brown the meat well.
  • Chop the onions and soften separately in butter. If using turmeric, add this to the onions and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Wash, dry and chop the herbs but not too finely. A variety of herbs should be used, but try not to miss out sorrel, as this gives a tangy flavour to the dish. If making sabzi qovurma to serve on its own, spinach or beet leaves can also be used. (They give out too much water during the cooking process for a classic sabzi qovurma with rice pilaf.)
  • Add the abgora or lemon juice (if you are not using sorrel), softened onions, turmeric or saffron infusion and chopped herbs to the meat. Mix well, put a lid on the pan and cook on a low heat. If too much water is coming out of the herbs during cooking, leave the lid off the pan.
  • Serve the sabzi qovurma in a bowl with a separate serving plate of <a href=”http://news.az/articles/cuisine/22596″>rice pilaf</a>, cooked Azerbaijani style, or on its own with yoghurt mixed with crushed garlic.

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