Emirati Recipe: Meat Stew (La-Ham Murraq / Saloona)

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There is nothing like a big bowl of hearty stew in the cold of winter. And just because I’m in Dubai doesn’t mean it doesn’t get cold!

Even though it is 40°C (104°F) outside every day, it is 22°C (71.5°F) in my apartment and we don’t even have the A/C on!

So I was looking forward to this La-Ham Murraq / Saloona or meat stew recipe:

Like chicken and fish saloona, this is very common throughout the UAE, indeed in some homes it is cooked twice a day. Because it can be accompanied by so many other things – rice, biryani or bread for example, it is a flexible dish.

A daily cooked Ramadan dish, it is popular for sending into the Mosques during the holy month as it is filling and nutritious. It is also one of the most famous Bedouin dishes.

Serve with dishes of sliced limes, dates, radishes, garlic chives, sliced white onion and buttermilk.

I had to half this recipe since I was only cooking for 2 people so I used 1 pound of lamb shoulder and cut it into small chunks:

The lamb was then simmered in a large pot of water for 30 minutes to tenderize the meat and to remove the foamy meat scum that boils out. This way, the final stew doesn’t get all gross with floaty gray bubble bits.

While the meat simmered, I chopped up the potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes, and smashed up a few garlic cloves:


When the lamb was done simmering, I drained it and discarded the water. Next I browned the onions in canola oil for a few minutes and then threw in the garlic, lamb, the spices (bezar, turmeric, cinnamon bark, salt, pepper, and whole loomi), and the chopped veggies. I simmered for stew for one hour:


The brown balls floating in the stew are whole loomi which is dried limes (see photo below). It is often sold and packaged as dried lemons for some reason. It has a smell and taste similar to preserved Chinese kumquats.

Loomi - Arabic dried limes

After one hour, we had this bowl of goodness to enjoy:


It came out more of a soup than a stew but I think that may be because I didn’t use a starchy enough potato. The lamb was very tender, the loomi gave the soup a slight tang, and the bezar gave it a bit of a spicy kick.

I liked it very much and it was even better for breakfast the next day!

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Previous Emirati recipe: Chicken with rice in the bottom (De-jaj ta-ha-tah)

Up next: Lamb fried with spices (La-ham nashif)

Note: This post is part of my Cooking Local project

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  1. When my Saudi student made this for me, he used eggplant and grey zucchini in it. Is that a regional thing? He’s from the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

  2. I'll have to try this – I'm only familiar with lamb done English-style, with sweet mint sauce. Which is rather cloying!

  3. Do we have to discard (throw) the water we boiled the lamb in? I suppose it would have tasted better if it was used for the stew until the end? or was it the one you used to simmer the stew?

    I want to try this recipe!

    Sandier Pasturess last blog post..Too many lead foot and jungle trained drivers in Dubai