Freezing cold, blowing a gale outside and pelting with rain. That’s when we love to make ourselves cosy and warm with a big steaming pan of comfort – Turkish lamb and chickpea stew.
Even here in Fethiye, in southwest Turkey, we can have quite harsh winters. So these soothing winter warmers are much-loved and appreciated.
Tencere Yemekleri – A One Pot Meal
Stews and casseroles are most often cooked in the oven.
In Turkish cuisine, güveç recipes – casseroles cooked in a clay pot – are usually oven cooked.
However, for this lamb and chickpea stew recipe, we’re doing a ‘tencere’ dish. ‘Tencere’ is a deep pan.
So, we’re going to be making a stew cooked in a pan on the hob.
It’s simple, tasty home cooking. The type of food you see tempting you through the display glass of the bain marie of Turkish lokantas.
And cooking in this way is also a faster process.
So it’s perfect for those days when you weren’t planning ahead by putting your stew in the oven to cook over a few hours.
There’s also another reason why we love to cook ‘tencere yemekleri’ – one pot meals.
A while back, we finally treated ourselves to a bright red cast iron pot (Dutch oven) that we’ve wanted for an age.
Any excuse to use that pan!
We’re always thinking up soups and stews just to get the pan either on the hob or in the oven!
Popular Turkish Dish
This lamb and chickpea stew is a popular Turkish dish – kuzu etli nohut yemeği.
It roughly translates as ‘lamb and chickpea meal’. And for dishes like this, the main ‘stew’ is a tomato sauce.
A mix of water or stock, such as chicken stock, and tomato paste.
Make A Chickpea Stew If You Prefer
If you’re looking for vegetarian or vegan options, tencere dishes needn’t contain meat.
Karnabahar yemeği (Turkish cauliflower stew) is a favourite for us. And even quicker to make than our lamb and chickpea stew.
And, naturally, this dish can be cooked without the lamb; nohut yemeği.
This gives you a simple but delicious chickpea stew recipe which is very common in Turkey.
In lokantas, you will often see workers on their breaks eating their way through a bowl of chickpea stew; a separate bowl of rice pilaf to accompany it.
Not forgetting the obligatory bucketload of crusty bread, too, of course.
Similar Stew Method
We’re going to be cooking our lamb and chickpea stew in much the same way as the equally popular dish, etli kuru fasulye.
Again, this is another dish that is often made without meat – kuru fasulye. For this meal, the chickpeas make way for white beans.
But let’s get back to our kuzu etli nohut yemeği…
How We Make Our Spicy Lamb Stew With Chickpeas
Because we’re making a cold weather dish, we’re going to be adding a mixture of spices and herbs to add a bit more comfort to the meal.
For us, ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks, is a perfect winter spice which adds a real depth of flavour.
But first, let’s deal with the main bulk of the ingredients.
- We use boneless lamb shoulder with excess fat removed. If you want a leaner cut, then leg of lamb is a great idea. Whilst we buy our lamb already diced, we cut it into smaller chunks before cooking so that it tenderises quicker.
- We like chunky onion slices. For some Turkish chickpea stew recipes, whole pearl onions are used. If you prefer a chunky onion and can’t get pearl onions, by all means, cut onion wedges.
- And, as for our peppers, both the red and green will add some colour. The thin red pepper you can see in the photo is a super fiery hot chilli. This is optional.
- We’re leaning towards quick and easy recipes where our stew is concerned. So we’ll be using tinned chickpeas (depending on where you live, chickpeas may be labelled as garbanzo beans). If you want to use dried chickpeas, remember to think ahead and steep them overnight in water.
- And one final point: Lots of traditional Turkish stews and soups use butter. As we’re cooking a winter comfort dish, we’ll be using butter for our lamb and chickpea stew recipe. If healthy recipes are more your thing, you can substitute the butter with olive oil.
Brown The Lamb
First of all, we’re going to have our Dutch oven pan on a medium-high heat. We add the butter as the pan is heating.
You only need enough butter to cover the bottom of the pan once it’s melted.
Our onions go in just until they start to sweat. And then we add our lamb chunks to seal.
Sealing the meat helps to retain the flavour. Once our lamb has browned, it will start to release juices.
This is when you can add the peppers and crushed garlic cloves. Then stir around for a couple of minutes.
Make The Lamb Stew
Then add your tomatoes and at least one cup of hot water to create your stew ‘gravy.’
Bring to the boil and add salt and black pepper, your spices and your chopped red chilli (or hot red pepper flakes).
You can reduce the temperature to a medium heat at this point. And place the lid on the pan so that it’s partially covered.
We’re going to leave the lamb stew on a slow simmer for around 45 minutes until the lamb is tender.
Give it a stir after around 30 minutes and add more water if you like. It’s entirely up to you how loose you want your stew consistency to be.
After 45 minutes, do a taste test.
If you need more seasoning, now is the time to add it.
Time For The Chickpeas
This is when you also drain and add your chickpeas and tomato paste to your lamb stew.
Then we stir everything together, cover the pan again and simmer on a low heat for another five to ten minutes.
After this, you’re ready to serve!
Comforting Mashed Potatoes
In Turkish lokantas, you often get dishes like lamb and chickpea stew served with mashed potato (patates püresi).
As this is a delicious meal for a cold winter’s day, mashed potato is the perfect accompaniment as far as we’re concerned.
Turkish dishes are often served warm rather than hot. So remove your stew from the heat but leave it covered in the pan.
During this time, you can prepare your mashed potato.
This is personal preference but we like to heat a clay casserole dish in the oven with our mashed potato in it.
The mashed potato will get a slightly crisp top. Spoon on the lamb and chickpea stew.
A happy bowl of comfort! And a perfect main course on any winter table.
Turkish Lamb & Chickpea Stew – FAQs
Absolutely. If you are vegetarian or vegan – or you just want a meat-free stew – it is very common for this dish to be made with chickpeas only.
In Turkish, chickpea stew is known as nohut yemeği and is often served in lokantas.
For our lamb & chickpea stew, we use boneless lamb shoulder with the excess fat removed.
If you want a leaner cut of meat, then you can use boneless leg of lamb.
In our lamb and chickpea stew recipe, we use tinned chickpeas (garbanzo beans) to make the cooking process quicker.
Tinned chickpeas can be added at the end to simply heat through.
If you want to use dried chickpeas, steep them in water overnight and cook for 45 minutes until soft, the following day.
If you don’t finish your lamb stew with chickpeas all in one sitting, it tastes great the next day.
Allow it to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. It will keep for 3 days in the fridge.
If you want to make a big batch of this spicy lamb and chickpea stew, you can freeze it for up to 3 months in a sealed container.
Remove the stew from the heat before you add the chickpeas and then add to containers to freeze.
When you come to defrost and reheat your stew, you can add the chickpeas then. This prevents them from going mushy.
Turkish Lamb & Chickpea Stew Recipe- Kuzu Etli Nohut Yemeği
Let’s warm ourselves up by making a big pan of this wholesome, comforting recipe for kuzu etli nohut yemeği – Turkish lamb and chickpea stew.
Turkish Lamb & Chickpea Stew Recipe
- 1 Large saucepan with lid – we use a cast iron pan; Dutch oven
- 1 Sharp knife
- 300 grams lamb shoulder trimmed of excess fat & cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 tin chickpeas 800g tin – 400g when drained
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes 400g tin – or 2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 2 medium onions peeled, halved & sliced into half moons
- 2 medium green peppers deseeded & cut into small chunks
- 2 cloves garlic peeled & grated
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme or oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander or freshly ground coriander seeds
- salt & pepper to season
- 1 knob butter enough to cover the base of your pan when melted
- 1 chilli pepper or hot red pepper flakes
- First of all, place your pan on the hob over a medium high heat and add your butter.
- As the butter begins to melt, add your onions and stir.
- Once they start to sweat, add your lamb chunks and stir around so they don't stick.
- When your lamb pieces have browned, add your peppers to the pan.
- Stir occasionally for a few minutes until your lamb has started to release juices and make a gravy.
- Now add your herbs, spices and salt and pepper and stir into the mixture.
- Add your tomatoes and a mug of hot water and bring to the boil.
- Now reduce to a low to medium heat, cover and simmer for around 45 minutes until the lamb is tender.
- Once your lamb shoulder pieces are tender, drain your tin of chickpeas and add to the stew.
- Now add your salça (tomato paste) – this adds a bit of sweetness and depth of flavour as well as creating a thicker stew consistency.
- Add more water, if necessary, depending on how much gravy you want in your stew, and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
- Serve your kuzu etli nohut yemeği – lamb and chickpea stew – as it is, with bread, rice or mashed potato.
- As with all of our recipes, the calories for our lamb and chickpea stew recipe are approximate and will vary depending on quantities used.
- In lokantas (canteen-style eateries), sulu yemek (meats and vegetables cooked in a sauce) are sometimes served with mashed potatoes. That’s how we lie to serve our lamb and chickpea stew.
- Turkish rice served in a separate bowl is also a traditional accompaniment. As is lots of fresh bread.
Enjoy your lamb & chickpea stew – kuzu etli nohut yemği – with mashed potato, as we do, or choose from other side dishes.
If you love this recipe, or you are looking for some other Turkish cooking inspiration, check out our list of Turkish recipes on the blog.