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No-sear Lamb or Beef and Chickpea Stew

4 Servings

2 hrs and 15 mins 40 mins active

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The mess, time and trouble required to brown meat for a stew left us longing for a better way. Did we really need that step to get big flavor? Then we discovered a world of alternatives from cultures where cooks skip the browning and instead build layers of flavor with spices and condiments. For our no-sear, no-stock stew, based on the Yemeni dish known as maraq, we started with a dry seasoning mix—paprika, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, salt and pepper. It did double duty, with half the mixture rubbed onto the meat and the rest briefly cooked in the pot with onion, butter and tomato paste. Cooking the seasonings with the fat and tomato paste bloomed their flavors and lightly browned the tomato paste. We wanted the savory sweetness of roasted whole garlic cloves (mincing releases aggressive sulfurous compounds) but not the trouble of roasting a head separately. So, we sliced off the top of the head, then added it whole to the stew to cook alongside the meat. We liked the flavor and texture of lamb shoulder. Boneless beef chuck worked, too, but needs an extra 1 cup of water and must cook for 1½ hours before the carrots are added.




Don’t use old spices. The backbone of the dish is the bold, vibrant spice mixture. Make sure yours are no more than a year old. Flat-leaf parsley can be substituted for the cilantro.

2 hrs and 15 mins

40 mins active



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Kathryne T.
February 11, 2024
By far, one of my favorite stews ever! The time is worth it!
Jerica S.
October 1, 2023
Hearty & earthy, love it best with lamb and I had to share the recipe with my lamb-loving mother as well.
Gloria R.
August 20, 2023
Big flavor
Beautiful color, nice and tart, balanced with the bitter greens and sweet carrots, fragrant with warm spices, what more could you want?
Erica F.
August 30, 2022
Great dish! I substitute chicken breast.
I go with the recipe as is but with chicken breast and it comes out delicious every time!
Diana L.
June 19, 2022
I have made this recipe several times with both lamb and beef. It always comes out delicious. It is the best stew I have ever had. My family loves it too, so I make it very often. I do not put 3 tablespoons of lemon at the end. It would make it too sour. I put 1 and taste then add a little more.
Michele R.

We love Middle Eastern spices and seasonings at our house and lamb is a favorite protein so using lamb in this dish, we made this twice. Once as written and once using lamb shoulder instead of leg. Also, we almost always have home cooked chickpeas at hand so used those both times. (Easy to cook in advance and freeze in roughly 1 can portions - like 1 1/2 C - and so much better we think than from a can.) While we thought the flavors in this are delicious, we preferred the shoulder meat to the leg and in both preparations we have to say we did miss that the meat wasn't browned first.

Karen O.

Enjoyed this recipe as a family this evening! I used a package of pre-cut beef stew meat from Costco, as I was looking for minimal prep time today. It was excellent and definitely a repeat dish for our household. Easy to pull together and the heat did most of the work. Served it atop couscous with the recommended yogurt and cilantro. It was a success with everyone at the table, especially our two youngest (ages 10 and 13). They can't wait to have the leftovers in the coming days.

Bud R.

Made this for dinner tonight. It was so good, that next time, I'm going to triple the recipe and give it out at Halloween.

Diana L.

I made this stew several times. Its so good. I made it tonight again, its almost gone. Great recipe!

Will H.

Final sentence of step 3 should read continue to "cook" rather than cool

Lynn C.

Hi Will -

Thanks for pointing out the typo! We've fixed it!

The Milk Street Team

Sandra M.

Since this is long cooking wondering why dried chickpeas wouldn't be used. Has anyone tried and can provide instruction. Presumable beef and soaked chickpeas go in together with additional water?

Elizabeth K.

I've made this recipe several times, it's a family favorite. Especially for my mom, who is 89, finicky and hardly eats. She requests this dish whenever I ask her what she'd like. It freezes well for quick suppers. Just love it.

John M.

The commenters above are exactly right. This recipe makes for a deeply delicious stew! The spices are perfectly balanced, with no one overwhelming the other. Another Milk Street recipe that I'll be making again and again. Thanks Matthew & Rebeccah!

Dana A.

Is there any chance of making this with chicken or tofu, or is the meat really needed?

Lynn C.

Hi Dana -

The timing, texture and flavor of the dish will all change if you replace the meat with chicken or tofu. Because chicken will take about 1/4 of the time (tofu really doesn't even need to be cooked), we don't think the flavor development will get there. Because of this, we would likely have to do a complete re-engineering of the recipe to make up for that diminished flavor (likely replacing the water with broth, reducing the liquid, etc.) so, unfortunately, it's not a 1:1 replacement.

The Milk Street Team

Donna S.

Made this tonight and it was DELICIOUS. Perfect as written. :)

Matthew K.

Outstanding!! My wife doesn’t like lamb so I substituted pork and changed the butter to goat butter. Wonderfully flavorful!!

Barbara S.

I made this according to the recipe with the exception of adding a little more spinach as I happened to have extra. It was phenomenal! So bright and delicous. And bonus! It was excellent 2 days later as leftovers. This is a definite 5 star recipe!