Iraqi lamb stew (Tishreeb)

This is a typical Iraqi dish that is served with white rice or flat Arabic bread. Every Iraqi household must have cooked one of the two variations of this dish. It comes either yellow or red. Yellow is achieved when only using turmeric, red is when you add tomato pure and few large tomatoes. I prefer the yellow. I slightly changed the recipe by adding carrots and ginger. I believe this adds another dimension to the dish. Carrot added colour and flavour and when the ginger is combined with turmeric (its best friend) they work together being the best natural antibiotic you can find.


There is a secret key Iraqi ingredient …. Do you want to know what it is? You might have never heard of it or seen it but it add that signature taste. Nomi Basra, which is dried lime.

So this is is the little story behind this dried citrus fruit.  Green lime was brought to Iraq hundreds of years ago via boats from India and Oman to Basra, Iraq’s biggest port in its southern region. In fact in Basra there is a market called Indian market where all  imports from the Indian subcontinent is found. The lime would reach Basra dry! Hence the name Nomi (lime) Basra (name of the city). Once dried it’s citric taste is slightly more concentrated but a hint of bitterness, so you must be careful when cooking that the seeds are removed as they cause the bitterness.  I have only seen and taste Nomi Basra in Iraqi curry and stew and tea!  One day I will blog about Nomi Basra tea !

This is what it looks like. It comes in whole form or grinned.

For the meat I use lamb with some bone. I think the bone adds a nice flavour and makes a good broth. It is entirely up to you which kind of meat you use and what part of the animal.

As soon as I prepare this dish I smile, knowing it make happy tummies. It is like getting a big warm hug from the inside, especially on cold wintery days.


2 tablespoons of oil

½ kg Lamb pieces,

2 onion cut into large chunks

1 Dried lime – Nomi basra pierced once by your thumb (so not let the seeds escape and cause the stew to be bitter)

1 small root of ginger  cut into small

1 2/2 teaspoons of turmeric

3 teaspoons of salt or according to taste

1 teaspoon of black pepper

Can of chickpeas

4 large potatoes pealed and cuts into chunks

3 carrots pealed and cut


Step 1- In an oiled pot fry the meat pieces with sliced onions for 5 minutes on a medium heat.

Step 2 – Add enough water to cover the meat. Add seasoning and spices. Leave to cook for 30 minutes.

Step 3 – Once the lamb is soft add the chickpeas, potato and carrot. Leave to cook for 30 min on a medium heat or until meat is tender. Add water when it drops below half the pot.

Time save: Use a pressure cooker and you can half the cooking time.




One comment

  1. Didn’t know the story behind Nomi Basra! very interesting. Looking forward to finding out what Nomi basra tea is


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