Lamb Shuwa

As part of a wonderful and long-awaited international trip in 2022, we stayed at the Al Bustan Hotel in Muscat, Oman. At one of its restaurants, I ordered the lamb shuwa. At first I thought it might be related to lamb shawarma, but it is definitely its own dish, consisting of lamb marinated in spices for days prior to cooking. You can see how beautifully tender the lamb is, served on a yellow rice.

I found this online: “A favorite Omani recipe, shuwa (or ‘chauwa’) is a dish of slow-cooked marinated lamb or goat. The meat is coated in a flavourful rub of spices, garlic and oil, although exact recipes and spices used vary from region to region and are influenced at varying degrees by Asian, African and European cuisines.”

While shuwa is traditionally cooked wrapped in banana leaves and buried in a pit of hot coals to cook for anything from 6 hours to 2 days, Greg Malouf’s recipe is suitable for cooking in the oven so it’s a great way to try this fantastic roast lamb recipe at home.

Born in Melbourne to Lebanese parents, Greg Malouf is a recognized authority on Middle Eastern cuisine. I checked him out on Amazon, and there are too many cookbooks to list! He and his wife Lucy Malouf have written 8 award-winning books together, covering the cuisines of Persia, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, and more. I ended up purchasing Turquoise – “a chef’s travel through Turkey,” having just visited Cappadocia in spring of 2022.

In this recipe, the chef combined the marinated lamb with a spicy basmati and vermicelli dish.

Roast Lamb Shuwa with Fragrant Rice

1 leg of lamb, bone in
1/2 garlic bulb, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 nutmeg, grated
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tablespoon turmeric
1 pinch of hot smoked paprika
juice of half a lemon
1 2/3 ounces of olive oil
2 banana leaves, or more as needed to wrap the lamb

20 saffron threads
1 ounce olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 3/4 ounce fine wheat vermicelli
14 ounces basmati rice, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/4 pints chicken stock
juice of half a lemon
1 ounce olive oil

In a large pestle and mortar, crush the garlic cloves with the sea salt to create a smooth paste. Add in all the dry spices, followed by the lemon juice and olive oil. Blend into the garlic paste until evenly combined. (I used a blender for the paste.

Rub the spice paste all over the lamb, working it in thoroughly to completely and evenly cover the meat. Cover the lamb and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.

Before cooking, preheat the oven to 140°C/gas mark 1 (285°F) and remove the lamb from the fridge to bring it back up to room temperature. Wrap the leg in the banana leaves, making sure it is fully enclosed. Place in a deep baking tray with any seams from the wrapping facing down to help the leaves stay in place during cooking.

My banana leaves (thank you Amazon) were narrow, so I doubled up and used foil to keep everything intact during cooking.

Cover the tray with tin foil, then bake in the oven for 1–2 hours – check the meat after an hour, as the exact cooking time will depend on the weight and thickness of the joint. The lamb should be tender and still slightly pink in the centre when done. Allow the lamb to rest, still covered, for about 30 minutes while cooking the rice.

Place the saffron threads in a small bowl or cup and cover with 2 ounces warm water. Leave to soak until adding to the rice.

Pour the olive oil into a large heavy-bottomed pan and place over a low heat. Gently sauté the onion for a few minutes until softened and translucent. Roughly break up the vermicelli and stir into the oil, allowing the pieces to colour and brown in the oil.

Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil, then mix in the soaked saffron threads and dry spices. Cover everything with the stock and bring up to the boil.

Cover the pan with a lid. Keeping the heat low, allow to cook for 20 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated. Fluff up the rice with a fork, adding a squeeze of lemon juice just before serving.

To serve, unwrap the rested lamb and carve into generous slices. Serve immediately with the rice on the side. Or, on top.

I needed to salt the lamb more, and honestly, I wish I’d made double the marinade, so there was some sauciness left on the lamb. Such wonderful flavors!

By Published On: January 31st, 202347 Comments on Lamb Shuwa

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Travel Gourmet January 31, 2023 at 6:15 AM - Reply

    Gorgeous recipe! And interesting to know you can get banana leaves from Amazon!

    • Chef Mimi January 31, 2023 at 10:10 AM - Reply

      I think one can get anything from Amazon!

  2. Lori January 31, 2023 at 7:58 AM - Reply

    I LOVE lamb and this dish looks amazing. I can’t wait to try it. The spices used are very similar to a Moroccan lambmeat ball that I make so I know it will be wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

    • Chef Mimi January 31, 2023 at 10:09 AM - Reply

      Lots of similarities, but no nuts or sugar. That to me would be the biggest difference. But oh it was good!!!

  3. angiesrecipes January 31, 2023 at 12:34 PM - Reply

    wow What a great looking dish! I love lamb and this is such a creative and different way to prepare whole leg of lamb. can I simply cover it with tin foil instead banana leaves?

    • Chef Mimi January 31, 2023 at 5:29 PM - Reply

      I’m sure the leaves added some moisture? Maybe big lettuce leaves would work!

  4. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen January 31, 2023 at 12:44 PM - Reply

    Love it Mimi! Anything that is cooked wrapped in banana leaves and buried in a pit of hot coals to cook for two days has got to get their attention! I love this amazing gathering of spices, and the saffron rice looks really delicious!

    • Chef Mimi January 31, 2023 at 5:28 PM - Reply

      Exactly! Reminds me of Kalua pig. I’m glad I didn’t have to dig a pit!

      • Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen January 31, 2023 at 6:02 PM

        We even have a technique here for “Bean Holes” have you heard of this baked bead method?
        Not nearly as good as a clam/lobster bake!

      • Chef Mimi February 1, 2023 at 8:06 AM

        No! You’ll have to do a post on it.

      • Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen February 1, 2023 at 8:20 AM

        I seem to have beans coming out my ears!

  5. Gary January 31, 2023 at 2:21 PM - Reply

    Yum, that looks good.

    • Chef Mimi January 31, 2023 at 5:27 PM - Reply

      Thanks, Gary!

  6. Mary January 31, 2023 at 2:55 PM - Reply

    The meat looks succulent and the spices are out of this world. Really worth the effort.
    Thanks Mimi. :))

    • Chef Mimi January 31, 2023 at 5:27 PM - Reply

      It was fun using the banana leaves, too! But I’m glad I didn’t have to dig a hole in the back yard!

  7. Charlie DeSando January 31, 2023 at 3:13 PM - Reply

    Great lamb dish, looks great!!

    • Chef Mimi January 31, 2023 at 5:27 PM - Reply

      Thanks, Charlie!

  8. BERNADETTE January 31, 2023 at 3:59 PM - Reply

    Mimi I am not a fan of lamb but the rice recipe I will try. Thanks.

    • Chef Mimi January 31, 2023 at 5:26 PM - Reply

      I understand. My best girlfriends and husband won’t eat lamb!

      • BERNADETTE February 1, 2023 at 6:09 AM

        Well, I have some good company.

      • terrie gura February 2, 2023 at 6:48 PM

        May I please have Bernadette’s portion of lamb? ;)

      • Chef Mimi February 4, 2023 at 10:43 AM


  9. Sherry M January 31, 2023 at 4:11 PM - Reply

    we don’t eat lamb but all the flavours here are just my thing! I love middle eastern/Persian/Lebanese foods. And greg malouf is such an aussie star!

    • Chef Mimi January 31, 2023 at 5:25 PM - Reply

      Oh wonderful! He and his wife sure have written a ton of cookbooks!

  10. Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons January 31, 2023 at 8:37 PM - Reply

    I love all the spices. It looks like quite an undertaking, I hope you had dinner guests to share. It looks and sounds delicious.

    • Chef Mimi February 1, 2023 at 8:06 AM - Reply

      Most people I know don’t like lamb. It was all mine! But it froze well.

      • Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons February 3, 2023 at 10:52 PM

        Really? I adore it, what a shame. Lamb shanks are a favorite. I still remember my mother’s pleasure in finding roast leg of lamb with herbs de Provence and flageolet beans at a restaurant in N CA. But, as you say, it was all your own.

      • Chef Mimi February 4, 2023 at 7:57 AM

        It’s such a special flavor to me, much more than a steak or roast.

  11. Tandy | Lavender and Lime January 31, 2023 at 9:58 PM - Reply

    I’m salivating! This looks so good. Despite having huge banana plantations in South Africa I’ve never seen the leaves for sale.

    • Chef Mimi February 1, 2023 at 8:07 AM - Reply

      Well, leave it to Amazon!!

  12. Frank Fariello February 1, 2023 at 2:49 PM - Reply

    What a fascinating dish. Quite the effort, it seems, but I’m sure it’s worth it. Sounds like an awesome Sunday dinner or special occasion meals. I can hear the oohs and aahs already!

    • Chef Mimi February 2, 2023 at 8:32 AM - Reply

      The spices are so good with the lamb, which came out perfect. Oooohs and aaaahs indeed!

  13. terrie gura February 2, 2023 at 11:48 AM - Reply

    Wow, you even went the extra mile with the banana leaves? This is beautiful, and I can see that the lamb is perfectly cooked and so juicy. Love it!

    • Chef Mimi February 5, 2023 at 4:58 PM - Reply

      I got them from Amazon!!!

  14. February 4, 2023 at 1:55 AM - Reply

    Lamb. My favourite red meat! And you were inspired by a dish you had in Oman? I love that and how you’ve been inspired to make this version of lamb shuwa Mimi. Looks delicious! Wouldn’t it be great though to cook the shuwa traditionally in pots buried in hot coals? Ha ha! I can see my neighbours not being a fan of that!

    • Chef Mimi February 4, 2023 at 7:56 AM - Reply

      Oh, that would be fun! I would also love to have a tandoor in my back yard!

  15. Healthy World Cuisine February 4, 2023 at 8:08 PM - Reply

    Huge lamb lovers here and I love all of those delicious warming spices. Looks super tender and I bet your house smells amazing.

    • Chef Mimi February 5, 2023 at 4:54 PM - Reply

      It was a fabulous lamb dish. The rice was wonderful as well. The best kind of potpourri!

  16. Ronit February 5, 2023 at 5:22 PM - Reply

    This dish looks amazing! I’m sure the aroma in the kitchen while preparing was so wonderful. :)

    • Chef Mimi February 5, 2023 at 5:36 PM - Reply

      The best kind of potpourri there is!

  17. nancyc February 5, 2023 at 8:38 PM - Reply

    What a beautiful meal! I’ve never seen banana leaves used like this—love that idea! :)

    • Chef Mimi February 6, 2023 at 7:34 AM - Reply

      I’ve only seen banana leaves wrapping Kalua pig in Hawaii! Can’t believe I got them at Amazon!

  18. David Scott Allen February 6, 2023 at 10:17 AM - Reply

    This looks beyond fantastic, Mimi! I definitely want to try this – and just found a source for banana leaves. Question – do you need to peel back the banana leaves to check the doneness of the lamb? Or did you use a thermometer? Your s is PERFECTLY cooked!

  19. David @ Spiced February 8, 2023 at 6:32 AM - Reply

    Interesting – at first glance, I would’ve assumed this recipe was somehow related to lamb shawarma, too. It does look delicious, though! I love all of those spices in the recipe. And is there anything that Amazon doesn’t carry!? I’m surprised they have banana leaves!

    • Chef Mimi February 8, 2023 at 10:31 AM - Reply

      It’s amazing isn’t it. For me, in Oklahoma, it’s a godsend. At least our local grocery store tries really hard.

  20. Raymund February 13, 2023 at 5:08 PM - Reply

    Wow, what an amazing experience! The Lamb Shuwa sounds incredibly delicious, with the tender meat marinated in flavorful spices. And with Greg Malouf as the recipe creator, it’s no surprise it’s a hit. I love how he combines the shuwa with a spicy basmati and vermicelli dish to make a complete meal. I can’t wait to try this at home. Thanks for sharing!

    • Chef Mimi February 13, 2023 at 5:14 PM - Reply

      You are so welcome. And it was absolutely delicious!

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