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  • 900g (about 2lbs) lamb shoulder and/or stew meat, trimmed of fat, bones left in, cut into small pieces
  • water
  • salt
  • 385g (2 cups) pearled barley
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 to 4 quarts unstrained homemade yogurt, made with whole milk *


  1. Place the lamb in a large stockpot or dutch oven. Cover with about 1 quart (900g) water and add about 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste).
  2. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, just until the lamb is cooked through and somewhat tender (not yet falling apart).
  3. While the lamb is cooking, boil the barley. Place the pearled barley in a large saucepan with about 1.5 quarts (1350g) water and about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about 40 minutes, until it’s tender but al dente.
  4. Once the lamb is done, rinse and strain it, and rinse out the pot. Rinse the barley once it’s done too.
  5. If your yogurt is on the thick side, you will only need to use 3 quarts, and will need to water it down with about 4 cups of water. * The yogurt, or yogurt/water mixture, should have quite a bit of body, but it absolutely must be liquid (see photos). Place the yogurt (and water, if using) in the pot, add the egg, and mix until completely combined. Add the cooked and strained lamb and barley, and season with a little more salt (about 2 teaspoons, or more to taste). Stir together, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir constantly while you bring it to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Keep the pot uncovered, and cook stirring occasionally for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. The stew is done once the flavors have melded and the lamb is falling off the bones.


* If you want to make this with store-bought yogurt, make sure you don’t use strained/Greek yogurt. Look for a plain whole milk yogurt with as few additives and stabilizers as possible. Most Indian and Arabic brands work well, but read the label carefully to make sure it’s plain, unstrained. Yogurt consistency varies from brand to brand (and homemade batch to batch), which is why the amount you use will vary. If you use thick yogurt, you should water it down, and if it’s a thin homemade yogurt, you can get away with using the full amount and no water. Read the recipe for details.