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Lamb soup with yogurt, rice and vermicelli dish

Syrian Shakriya

  • Author: Noreen
  • Total Time: 3 hours



For the meat

  • 2 lbs lamb shoulder, deboned and cubed into 12 inch squares
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • 6 cloves garlic cloves, crushed

For the yogurt soup

  • 2 oz pine nuts
  • 4 cups full-fat yogurt (room temp)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Dried mint
  • ¾ cup dried chickpeas

Side dish of rice

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 oz vermicelli
  • 13 oz short-grain white rice, rinsed
  • 1 ¾ cups water


Step 1: General preparation

  • Have all your ingredients weighed out and ready to go. Bring you yogurt to room temperature.
  • If you have bought dried chickpeas for your shakriyah, remember to soak them overnight. Then prepare them by covering them with a few inches of water in a suitably large pot and boiling them for two hours or until they are tender but not so soft as to be falling apart.
  • Also, rinse your rice before you start, giving it a good rub under running water to wash away all the excess starch.

Step 2: Prepare the lamb

  • Cut the lamb into 1-2 inch cubes and season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat up some oil in a pan and sear the meat until it browns on both sides.
  • Add the chunks of onion and sweat them on a lower heat until they start to caramelize.
  • Add the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves, and garlic and let them roast until they become aromatic and fill your kitchen with their smells.
  • Add water to about halfway up the height of the meat chunks. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 2-2 ½ hours or until the lamb is tender.
  • Keep skimming the top of the water using a spoon to leave a clear broth for the end, and keep an eye on the water level, in case you need to add some more.
  • Once the lamb is ready, remove the cubes from the pot and keep them warm.
  • Pour the cooking liquid through a sieve and discard all of the chunky bits.
  • Set the strained broth aside.

Step 3: Prepare the rice

  • Heat up some butter and olive oil in a pan
  • Add the vermicelli and stir well. Fry them until they are golden brown, which will make them nice and crispy.
  • Add the rice and stir in well with the vermicelli, making sure to coat the rice well with the oil that’s in the pan
  • Add the water to the rice and bring to the boil.
  • Let it keep boiling until the liquid level comes down to that of the rice in the pot.
  • Now turn the heat down to the lowest setting, cover and leave for 17 minutes – no peeking!
  • Then turn the heat off and keep the lid on for another 15 minutes to let all the steam in the pot get absorbed by the rice.

Step 4: Prepare the soup

  • To roast the pine nuts, heat up a pan on a medium heat then add the nuts, monitoring them very carefully and keeping them moving.
  • Once you see them start to turn golden, and you can smell that delicious roasting aroma, it’s time to take them off. Set them aside.
  • In a large pot, whisk the yogurt with the egg, corn flour, salt and pepper, crushed garlic and 250ml of the strained cooking liquid. Add more liquid if you’d like your yogurt to be more soupy.
  • Turn on the heat and, stirring constantly to prevent coagulation, cook the yoghurt over a low heat until it comes to a simmer.
  • Cook it for another 2 minutes once it boils, then turn off the heat.
  • Stir in the chickpeas.

Step 5: Serve the shakriya

  • Place the lamb chunks into a deep bowl.
  • Pour over with the hot yogurt soup.
  • Sprinkle with pine nuts and dried mint.
  • Finally, finish with some fresh black pepper.
  • Prep Time: 30 min
  • Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 min