Lamb Stew with Lemon and Figs

The minty yogurt adds a cool and refreshing flavor to the richness of the citrus-infused lamb in this dish. The figs mellow the umami with a mildly sweet flavor. It makes a hearty main dish and goes well served with grains, pita, or a hearty bread.

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Servings: 6


3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 Tbs chopped fresh mint
2 cups chicken stock, divided, more if needed
1/8 tsp saffron threads, crumbled
1/2 lemon (preferably Meyer)
1 lb boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed, and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 Tbs ghee, more if needed
1 medium onion (about 1/2 lb), thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 tsp minced ginger
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup packaged tomatoes, diced, with juice
1/2 cup dried figs (about 2 oz.), stems trimmed and quartered lengthwise


1. Set a strainer lined with a double layer of cheesecloth over a medium bowl. Place yogurt in strainer and allow to drain for 3-5 hours.

2. Transfer strained yogurt to a small bowl. Stir in mint, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

3. Warm 1/4 cup chicken stock and add saffron, Let stand at least 20 minutes to infuse. Set aside.

4. Slide the lemon very thinly, using a mandolin, then quarter it. Set aside.

5. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Heat 1 1/2 Tbs ghee in a heavy medium pot or saucepan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown lamb on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Add more ghee if needed. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

6. Add onion to the pot with a pinch of salt. Saute until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add lemon, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne. Stir and saute for 1 minute.

7. Add saffron mixture, scrapping up brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add tomatoes with juice, figs, and lamb along with any juices to the pot. Stir to coat. Add the remaining stock.

8. Bring the stew to a boil, reduce heat to low. Cover with a lid slightly ajar and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally and add broth by 1/4 cup if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

9. Serve stew with the minty yogurt on top.