top of page

Yemeni Lamb Zorbian

Zorbian is the Yemeni version of biryani. After testing this recipe many times, I've finally perfected it. This dish is time consuming, but it is worth EVERY MINUTE.

You can make this dish with chicken instead of lamb, but lamb is by far my favorite and the flavors can't be beat.

For the lamb, I highly recommend you use lamb shoulder and neck - those cuts will be incredibly tender and flavorful. Ask your butcher to cut them into large hand-sized pieces with the bone on. Do not make this recipe with boneless lamb - it really won't do it justice.

Watch my full Youtube video for detailed tips.



1 lamb neck & 1 lamb shoulder (bone in) Large hand-sized chunks لحم غنمي بالعظم. رقبة و كتف

3 or 4 large yellow onions ٣ او ٤ بصلات كبيرة

1.5 cups olive oil كباية ونص زيت زيتون

5 - 6 bay leaves ورق غار

1 large cinnamon stick حبة قرفة

5 cardamom pods حبات هيل

5 cloves حبات زر

1/2 tbsp cumin نص ملعقة ك كمون

1/2 tbsp ground coriander نص ملعقة ك كزبرة

1/2 tbsp turmeric نص ملعقة ك كركم

1/2 tbsp paprika نص ملعقة ك بابريكا

1 packet Sazon Goya Seasoning كيس بهار سازون

1 tbsp salt ملعقة ك ملح

8 - 10 medium golden potatoes

Yogurt Mixture

16 oz whole milk plain yogurt (half of a large container) نص كيلو زبادي كامل الدسم

3 - 4 green onion stalks بصل أخضر

8 - 10 large garlic cloves حبات ثوم

Half of your fried onions نص البصل المقلي


3 cups basmati rice ٣ كبايات رز أبيض

3 bay leaves ورق غار

1 large cinnamon stick قرفة

4 cardamom pods حبوب هيل

4 cloves حبات زر

Parsley for Garnish بقدونس للتزيين


  1. Chop onions into long strands.

  2. In a large and deep nonstick pot, heat olive oil and fry onions on high heat until golden brown. Add a tablespoon of salt to speed up the process. The onions should look almost burnt on the edges.

  3. Remove the fried onion and set aside leaving the remaining oil in the pot.

  4. Add the washed and drained lamb pieces to the hot pot with oil and mix around to get a nice sear. Add bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves, and cardamom pods. The browning will take a while since there is a lot of meat.

  5. Once meat has a decent amount of color on it, add ground spices: cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, Sazon seasoning, and salt. Continue to mix gradually until the meat is nicely browned - about 20 minutes.

  6. Add enough water to the meat so that is it completely covered. Bring to a simmer

  7. Peel and halve potatoes. If your potatoes are large, quarter them. Add the potatoes to the meat and water - make sure they are immersed.

  8. Cover and simmer the pot over medium heat. Check on the potatoes in about 15-20 minutes. Remove the potatoes when they are tender and set them aside.

  9. Continue simmering the meat until it is 80% cooked. A fork should pierce the meat easily, but it won't be falling off the bone yet.

  10. While the meat is simmer, make the yogurt mix: in a large food processor, blend the yogurt, garlic, green onions, and half of your fried onions. Set aside.

  11. Once the meat has reached 80% doneness as described above, strain out the cooking broth and set it aside for later use.

  12. Add the yogurt mixture to the drained meat and mix well. Cover and cook on medium low heat until meat is 100% cooked and falling off the bone when poked with a fork. Turn off the heat while you prepare the rice.

  13. Prepare the rice: In a large pot, boil 8 cups of water with the bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Add washed basmati rice and parboil till it is 75% cooked. The rice should plump up but it'll still feel raw when you try biting into it. Strain the rice out and remove the whole spices.

  14. Assemble: Add the cooked potatoes over the meat then spread the rice over it. Pour the reserved meat broth over the rice until it barely covers the top of the rice (about 3 cups).

  15. Cover the pot and bring down the heat to the lowest setting possible. Cook until the liquid completely gets soaked up. Turn off the heat once you can't see anymore liquid and leave the lid covered for 10-15 minutes for the rice to continue steaming.

  16. Prepare a large serving dish and gently dump the rice and meat into the dish. Garnish with the leftover fried onions and chopped parsley.


  • If you don't have Sazon seasoning, replace with Montreal Steak Seasoning or your favorite meat seasoning.

  • You can use a pressure cooker to cook the meat quicker. If your pressure cooker is not non-stick then only use it for the meat boiling stage. Cooking the yogurt in the stainless steal pot would likely scald it.

  • To make this dish with chicken, follow the exact steps. Cooking time will be much less.

4,729 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page