Qabooli Rice and Lamb Shanks

"It is said that this dish originated from the city of Kabul, in Afghanistan. I guess through travel and the evolution of food, it reached Oman. While we can argue who had it first, we can all agree on the fact that this is an Omani household favourite. Whether it is served with Lamb, Chicken or if you’re really lucky, Camel, the rice is ever so distinctive with its eclectic combination of spices (that separates it from an Iraqi version) and meat stock flavours. After multiple recipes from various Aunts I finally cracked my way of doing it and now wherever I am, Oman is with me."
-- @dinewithdina
Jump to Section
  • Recipe Card
Prep time 30mins
Cook time 2hrs 30mins

Recipe Card

For the Rice


  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup raisins or barberries
  • 2 onions, divided
  • 1 tablespoon baharat spice blend
  • 3 cups rice
  • 4 1/2 cups reserved lamb stock water
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • pomegranate arils, for garnish

For the Lamb Shanks


  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried chilies
  • 1 tablespoon baharat spice blend
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 dried Persian limes, pierced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Kosher salt, to taste


  • Step 1

    Heat your oven to 350°F.

  • Step 2

    Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a small saucepan. In a mortar and pestle, mix the saffron strands and sugar together until they form a powder, add this to the boiling water and stir well.

  • Step 3

    Pour 1 cup of this saffron water over the dried fruit and allow to soak, reserve the rest for the lamb.

  • Step 4

    Thinly slice 1 onion and add to a large saucepan on medium heat with garlic and ginger paste, as well as enough oil to cover the base. Slightly fry the onions till they begin to sweat and become transparent and then add in all of the spices. Increase the heat to high and fry the spices and onions together until everything has turned golden, 2-3 minutes.

  • Step 5

    Make a couple of slits in your lamb shanks and the place them flat in the sauce pan. Allow the shanks to brown on the bottom and then turn over to brown the other side. Make sure to check there is enough oil so that they don’t burn or stick. Once you are happy with the coloring of your shanks, add in around 4 cups of water to the saucepan. The water needs to just cover the shanks so this may be more or less water for you. Place the saucepan lid on top and leave on a high heat and allow the lamb to boil for 1 hour.

  • Step 6

    After an hour, check on the shanks. They will have shrunk considerably and come away from the bone. At this point I taste the water to make sure I have added enough salt. Then return the lid and cook for a further 25 minutes.

  • Step 7

    While you wait for the final boiling of the lamb, begin your rice. Thinly slice an onion and add to a saucepan or a rice cooker with oil and baharat.

  • Step 8

    Fry your onions till they are golden, 4-5 minutes. Then add in your rice and fry slightly, just to coat the rice in the spice and onion mix. Set aside.

  • Step 9

    By this point your lamb will be ready. Place your lamb pieces onto a foiled baking tray and using a brush, glaze the saffron water all over the shanks. Take a second piece of foil and cover the top of the lamb, making sure it’s sealed all around. Place in the oven and reduce the temperature to 300°F and roast for 30 minutes.

  • Step 10

    Using the water leftover from the lamb, pour 4 1/2 cups over your rice, making sure to sieve it so that you aren’t left with loads of spices mixed into your rice! Leave your rice to cook on a low heat till all the water is absorbed and the rice is soft and fluffy.

  • Step 11

    Slice an another onion thinly and add to a frying pan with oil. Fry off till they are translucent. Once they begin to turn golden, add in your dried fruit mix and cashews, fry for 3-4 minutes.

  • Step 12

    Once your lamb and rice is ready you can begin to plate. Start with the rice, then add in your dried fruit mix on top, followed by your shanks. Top with chopped cilantro and pomegranate seeds. Enjoy!