Today, I have for you a very special slow cooked lamb recipe, Kuzu Tandir. This is a popular Turkish lamb recipe that is tender, juicy and has amazing flavours! You’ll imagine yourself sitting by the Bosphorus river while eating this with some Turkish Pilaf.
I love slow-cooked meat. Be it pulled beef, braised meats, slow cooked lamb shoulder or anything else that I haven’t tried yet but want to! There is a level of comfort that slow-cooked meat provides that other dishes can’t. Perhaps it’s the intensification of flavours through hours of cooking, perhaps it’s the reduced sauces, perhaps it’s the feel of the meat melting in your mouth…I think it’s all of the above.
If slow-cooked meat is on a restaurant menu, that is usually what I end up ordering. I rarely leave disappointed or unsatisfied. I also love making slow cooked meat at home, not only because of the taste, but because of the low-intensive labour involved. This Turkish Kuzu Tandir is no different.
Kuzu Tandir (pronounced tan-door) is one of the most iconic Turkish dishes. Do you know Tandoori chicken? That’s essentially the same word. Tandir is a special oven that has been cooked in for centuries within Central Asia, the Turks and later in the Indian subcontinent. It is a pit like oven where meat is hung over coals to cook for hours. Naan and other bread and meat dishes are cooked in these ovens as well. You can still find these ovens in Turkey, and can certainly see them in Central Asia, India and Pakistan.
I grew up on a street lined with Turkish restaurants in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and I loved indulging in the pilafs, chicken dishes, dips, elaborate breakfasts and authentic doner kebabs. I drool reminiscing those family dinners. Mmmmm…
These days, slow-cooked meat is generally referred to as Tandir in Turkey. Kuzu tandir can be made over coals, in an oven or even on the stove. I chose to make it on the stove because it’s super easy and stress free. Marinade the lamb, dump in a pot, slow-cook for a few hours and witness it fall apart, melting in your mouth with every bite. It requires only a few ingredients that I’m sure you already have in your pantry, and the hardest thing is waiting for the meat to finish cooking!
It’s a perfect Winter lamb recipe (hello Aussie winter) but can be enjoyed any time of the year, if you love slow-cooked meat as much as I do! This is best paired with Turkish Pilaf (Turkish Pilaf recipe here). I hope you try this recipe out and enjoy it as much as I do!
Kuzu Tandir is a slow cooked lamb dish traditionally made in a Tandir (tandoor) oven. But this can also be made in the oven or on a stove. It falls of the bone and melts in your mouth. Best enjoyed with Turkish Pilaf.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
- 1 kg lamb shanks (or leg of lamb)
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/4 cup water
Mix olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, salt and thyme.
Pour over lamb and rub all over.
Heat pot and sear lamb, 1 minute on each side until slightly brown.
Add bay leaves, garlic cloves and water. Stir to combine.
Cover and cook on low heat for 3 hours.
Remove meat from pot into bowl and pull meat apart with tongs or two forks.
Enjoy warm with pilaf!
Watch how to make Kuzu Tandir