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Quzi which is lamb shanks served over yellow rice with almonds and raisins

Quzi (Authentic Iraqi Recipe)

This recipe features tender lamb served over a bed of yellow rice and garnished with crunch almond and raisins. An Iraqi national dish for celebrations and gatherings.
Course Main Course
Cuisine middle eastern
Keyword Lamb, Quzi
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Servings 6 (or more) servings



For the Lamb

  • 6 Lamb shanks bone-in, (or lamb shoulder cut into smaller pieces), approx. 2kg
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cardamom pods (green)
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 8 whole allspice berries optional
  • 8 whole black peppercorns optional
  • 2 teaspoons salt

For the Rice

  • 4 cups basmati rice
  • 6 cups lamb broth
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

For the Garnish:

  • ¾ cup slivered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ cup raisins gold or brown
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley


For the Lamb

  • Start by washing the lamb and rubbing it with salt. Wash off the salt and place on the stove top and cover with water. Allow it to come to a boil for 10 minutes and skim off any foam that forms.
  • Once the foam is skimmed off, add the whole spices and salt, cover the pot and allow it to cook at a low rolling boil for 1-2 hours. Check the water periodically and add more as needed to ensure the lamb is fully covered.
  • If you are using a full lamb shoulder, you will need to rotate it (since it won't fit fully in an average sized pot) and this will double the cooking time.
  • If you are using a pressure cooker, place the lamb in the pressure cooker (or instant pot) and cover with water. Boil for 10 minutes, skim off the foam, then add the salt and whole spices. Pressure cook for 45 minutes.
  • For both methods, ensure the lamb is tender before moving to the next step. It will continue to roast so it doesn't need to be falling off the bone, but sufficiently tender.
  • Remove the lamb and place it in an oven safe dish. Strain the broth from the whole spices and set aside. Add 2 ladles of it to the bottom of the oven dish with the lamb.
  • At this point, if you want a more seasoned tasting lamb, rub it with your favourite spice blend such as the middle eastern seven spice blend.
  • Cover the lamb tightly with foil and roast it in the oven at 400F for 2-3 hours until it is falling off the bone tender. Be sure to check it with a fork. During the last 10 minutes, remove the foil and broil the top to get some colour.

For the Rice

  • Wash the rice well until the water runs clear and drain it. You can adjust the amount of rice as long as you maintain a 1:1.5 ratio of rice:liquid. You will also need to adjust the salt.
  • In a pot, add the required amount of lamb broth (6 cups) along with the salt, oil and turmeric. Taste the broth to ensure it tastes visibly salt.
  • Add the rice to the pot, mix, then allow it to come to a rolling boil on medium heat. Once boiling for 3 minutes, cover it, turn the heat to low, and allow it to cook for 20 minutes undisturbed.
  • After 20 minutes, turn off the heat and let it rest for a further 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

For the Garnish

  • Finely chop the parsley
  • Fry the almonds with the oil, stirring constantly because they burn easily. Once golden brown, remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl
  • In the same pan using the residual oil, add the raisins and toast them for a few minutes until they're soft

To assemble

  • Start by adding the rice to a large serving dish, then top with the lamb shanks
  • Sprinkle the almonds, raisins and parsley on top. Serve with a stew or salad.


  • This recipe is for 6 lamb shanks which are approximately 2kg. You can also use bone-in lamb shoulder that is cut up into medium sized pieces (ask your butcher to do this for you).
  • You can increase or decrease the amount of lamb in this recipe, but keep the amount whole spices roughly the same. Adjust the rice quantity and the salt level.
  • You can use a whole shoulder, but it is harder to cook because it won't fit into an average sized pot so you'd have to rotate it and double the cooking time for the boiling portion.