Slow-cooked lamb with quinces

Slow-cooked lamb with quinces

New Middle Eastern Food
Mark Roper

We spent a wonderful afternoon and evening with Ayfer Unsal, the legendary Turkish food writer. Ayfer is a wonderful cook and she prepared this superb dish for us, explaining that her mother and grandmother used to brown the lamb over a charcoal fire before slow-cooking it with the quinces. It’s not necessary to peel the quinces as the skins disintegrate into the thick, cinnamon-spiced sauce. Accompany this dish with rice or boiled new potatoes.


Quantity Ingredient
1.5kg lamb shoulder chops
2 tablespoons olive oil
500g onions, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons mild turkish red pepper paste
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
8 cloves
boiling water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
3 small quinces
shredded flat-leaf parsley leaves, to garnish


  1. Trim the lamb chops of any excess fat. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based casserole dish over a medium heat. Brown the lamb chops all over, then remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Add the onion to the pan, lower the heat and gently sweat for 15–20 minutes, until very soft and lightly coloured. Add the tomato and pepper pastes and all the spices to the pan and stir well. Return the lamb chops to the pan and pour on enough boiling water to cover everything generously. Stir in the salt and pomegranate molasses, then bring to the boil. Cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
  3. Cut the quinces in half and peel and core them. Cut each half into four slices and add to the pan. Cover the pan and cook for a further 30–40 minutes, until the sauce is thick and fragrant and the lamb and quinces are both meltingly tender. Taste and adjust the seasonings as required.
  4. When ready to serve, garnish with parsley.
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