Qoozi is an Arabian Gulf specialty, reflecting the generosity and hospitality of Bedouin Arabs.
It is a whole lamb, grilled (or roasted), stuffed, and served on a bed of rice and richly embellished with fried nuts. The idea of cooking a whole stuffed lamb at home might come off as daunting, but think of it as roasting a stuffed chicken, just on a much larger scale…
I adapted this recipe from Manal.
I: The Stuffing
15 boiled eggs
1 Tbsp saffron
1/2 cup rose water
5 onions, chopped
1 cup ghee
4 cup split peas, boiled for an hour and drained
2 cups raisins
2 Tbsp cardamom
1 Tbsp salt
Peel the boiled eggs, place in a bowl with the saffron and rose water.
Cover, refrigerate overnight.
Heat the ghee in a large pot.
Add the chopped onions and saute until transparent.
Add the boiled split peas, raisins, cardamom, salt, and the egg/saffron/rosewater mixture.
Set aside to later stuff the lamb.
II: The lamb
1 whole cleaned lamb (9 to 12 kg)
1 cup vinegar
1 Tbsp cumin powder
1 Tbsp ginger powder
1 Tbsp coriander powder
1 Tbsp cardamom powder
1 Tbsp black pepper
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp baharat (mixed Arabic spice)
2 Tbsp salt
1/2 cup oil
Preheat your oven to 380°F
On a large table surface, place long sheets of aluminium overlapping like an asterisk (*) and place the lamb in the middle.
Rub the lamb inside and out with the vinegar.
Next rub all the surface with the spices (no need to do the belly cavity).
Lastly rub the oil all over the surface.
Spoon the stuffing mixture in the belly cavity.
Push the legs towards the chest and seal the foil securely around the lamb.
Bake the lamb for 3 to 4 hours.
III: Final Presentation
300g vermicelli, fried
500g sultanas, fried
500g blanched almonds, fried
300g slivered almonds, fried
14 cups rice
Cook the rice as desired about an hour only before serving (I cooked half white and the other half colored with turmeric).
Combine the fried almonds, vermicelli, and sultanas.
You may mix half in the rice and keep half for the final decoration.
Spread the ride in a large dish (slightly bigger than the lamb itself)
Place the cooked lamb in the center.
If desired, you may remove some of the eggs from the belly cavity, halve them, and place them around the lamb.
Sprinkle with the remaining almond/sultana mix and serve.