This is such an exotic yet easy way to prepare lamb, giving you a traditional Yemeni lamb dish in a simple and approachable manner. The spices give such flavor and the cooking method gives tender and soft lamb. Lamb haneeth is absolutely delicious!
What is lamb haneeth?
Haneeth is a very popular Yemeni dish of slow roasted lamb that’s marinated in a mixture of spices and slow roasted until the meat is so tender it nearly falls off the bone. It’s usually served with basmati rice (which is usually also spiced but can be plain). It’s a very typical celebratory dish served at festivals and weddings, and very common in Yemeni restaurants around the world.
What’s so good about this recipe?
It’s the most tender way I’ve ever cooked lamb before. It helps that I used lamb shanks, but the resulting meat was cooked absolutely perfectly.
The combination of spices is so flavorful, but accessible too. Some people use a ready made spice mix (Yemeni Hawaij spice) but this isn’t always easy to find, so using your own simple spice mix simplifies things.
It’s a set it and forget it type recipe. Once the lamb is in the oven, your effort basically stops there. You just need to reduce the oven temperature, toss the lamb at one point, and uncover near the end and that’s it!
It’ll open up your eyes to new cuisines. I’d never cooked in a Yemeni style before, but I had this dish at a restaurant recently in Riyadh and I was determined to try to recreate it at home. I don’t want to toot my own horn but I’m confident this turned out even better!
What do you need to make this dish?
Lamb: I used about 1.5 lbs of lamb meat with bone, and I chose to use lamb shanks which I recommend for how tender and delicious they turn out.
Green onions, chives, and garlic cloves: These are blended with the other marinade ingredients. Interesting preparation but it works to tenderize the meat and add a lot of flavor!
Spices: Cumin powder, turmeric, salt, black pepper, cinnamon powder, whole cloves and cardamom pods, bay leaves
Dried or preserved lemon (lumee): This is totally optional, so don’t worry if you can’t find them. They are a very pungent, dry, black dried lemon (or lime) that are often used in Khaleeji cooking. I like adding a couple to the roasting pan while the lamb cooks.
Olive oil and Butter: These are blended with the marinade ingredients and are used to coat the lamb. This will give a great moistness to the inside of the lamb and slightly crispy roasted exterior.
How to prepare Yemeni haneeth lamb:
It’s so easy! You need to puree all the ingredients (except for the dried lemons and obviously the lamb), in a blender or food processor.
This means everything from the green onions and chives, spices (including the whole spices like the cardamom pods, cloves, and bay leaves), and the olive oil and butter all get blended up. You’ll get a thick green paste. If it’s too thick that it isn’t blending properly, add a splash of water just to get the mixer going.
Pour the paste over the lamb in a roasting dish. Using your hands, coat the lamb thoroughly with the marinade. Cover tightly with a sheet of parchment paper, then aluminum foil. Marinate for as long as you have, anywhere from 4 hour to overnight, the longer the better! I managed about 6 hours.
How to slow roast Yemeni lamb:
I found this roasting method the easiest. The concept is to cook at a high temperature (465 F or 240C) for the first hour. This will help to brown the outside of the lamb and seal in the moisture and juices.
After the first hour of cooking, reduce the temperature to 350 F (180C) and cook for another hours.
Once another hour passes, toss the lamb pieces around, and cover again and resume cooking. After another 30 minutes, uncover the dish, and cook for the last 30 minutes uncovered so that the lamb further crisps on the surface, and it’ll be tender and cooked through if you pull some off the bone with a fork.
What to serve haneeth lamb with:
The traditional way to have this is with basmati rice. Definitely my recommendation!
Have this with plain rice, or spiced rice. You can add a little turmeric powder or saffron to basmati rice while it’s cooking to color it a little.
You can serve this with hashweh rice (basmati rice cooked with some spices and ground beef), or vermicelli rice. I love lots of toasted nuts on top of any rice/meat dish, so I toasted some almond slivers and cashew nuts. Yum!
I recommend some daqous on the side (a spicy tomato sauce) which you can make (try a recipe like this) or buy from traditional rice places like I did (if you live in the Middle East).
A green salad would be great with this, with plenty of olive oil and lemon juice.
Storing leftover roasted lamb:
Leftover roasted lamb tightly wrapped will last 3-4 days in the fridge. You can also freeze it for 2-3 months. I’d recommend removing from the bone before storing.
What I did with the small amount of leftover meat I had was to use it in a stew the following day. This was a great way to use it up and still keep it moist and tender, and also made my meal prep the next day so easy.
If you liked this recipe, you might like:
- 1 bunch green onions
- 1 bunch chives
- 3 peeled garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tablespoon black pepper powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 3 cloves
- 4 whole cardamom pods
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1.5 tablespoon butter 20 g
- 2 dried lemons (lumee) optional
- 4 lamb shanks or lamb pieces with bone 650 g, 1.5 lb
- Combine all the ingredients from the green onions through to the butter (everything but the dried lemon and the lamb) in a food processor or blender, and process until well blended and has turned into a thick paste consistency. If you need to, add a splash of water if the sauce is so thick it won't combine well.
- Pour this green sauce over the lamb shanks and toss to coat thoroughly, then cover tightly by placing a sheet of parchment paper on top of the lamb, then sealing with foil and marinade for as much time as you have- anywhere from 4 hours to overnight.
- When it's time to cook the lamb, preheat the oven to 465 F (240C). Place the foil covered pan in the oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour, reduce the temperature to 350 F (180C) and cook for another 2 hours. Halfway through, toss the lamb, flipping the pieces over. When 30 minutes of cooking time remain, uncover the dish so that the outside of the lamb crisps up a little.
- Serve with rice of choice, preferably topped with toasted nuts and garnished with chopped cilantro (coriander)
Yemeni Lamb Haneeth by everylittlecrumb on Jumprope.