Qouzi ~ The Middle Eastern dish with stuffed lamb on rice

By Raghad Al Safi: ‘When it comes to cooking qouzi, the preparation itself is an extravagant one – a process requiring planning, precision and patience. It is the feast prepared for the first day of Eid, the meal cooked at engagements
to mark approaching marriages, and the symbol to signify that someone is a very special – and welcome – guest in your home. Whether it’s wrapped in banana leaves and pulled from a traditional tanoor oven; or a more modest rack of lamb filling your kitchen with the unmistakable scent of cooking meat fused with pistachios, raisins, turmeric and saffron, nothing sings celebration more than freshly prepared qouzi.

Abundant and spectacular, if there ever was a meal that encapsulated the Iraqi approach of using food to nourish both your body and your soul – this lamb dish is it.’ Do read our review of Raghad Al Safi’s cookbook The Iraqi Kitchen.


  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 chopped onions
  • 1 kg cubed lamb
  • 10 cups water
  • 5 cups rice
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup shelled peas
  • ¼ cup baharat spices*
  • 1 cup pistachios
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  • 1 whole lamb (approximately 10 kg)
  • ¼  cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 10 whole cardamom pods
  • ¼ cup baharat spices
  • You will also need a trussing needle and twine

*Baharat Spices

  • ½ tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp cardamom
  • ½ tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • ½ tsp ground angelica
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • Mix all spices together


  1. For the stuffing, in 2 tablespoons of oil, lightly sauté the onions until soft and set them aside. In a new frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and fry cubed lamb until cooked, then set it aside. Boil 3 cups of water, add the rice and salt. Bring to a boil for 2–3 minutes (until rice is tender), drain and set aside. Mix raisins, peas, baharat spices and pistachios, with the onion, lamb and rice.
  2. To prepare the lamb, rub the lamb with salt (inside and out) and wash well. Once the lamb is cleaned, rub with salt, pepper and oil. Make small incisions throughout the flesh and stud with the whole cardamoms and cloves.
  3. Stuff the lamb with the prepared stuffing and stitch it shut with the trussing needle and twine. Rub the spices over the outside of the lamb and cook on high heat for 1 hour. Then reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 6 hours, turning halfway through.

[The Iraqi Table is published by Motivate Publishing and is available in leading bookstores and at booksarabia.com. Motivate Publishing has shared this recipe and image with FoodeMag dxb website and e-magazine. We may have altered it to match the format in which our recipes appear in this website]

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