Zahra Bi’laban is a very common Arab meal that is typically served in the winter as it is super comforting. Zahra Bi’laban translates to ‘cauliflower in yogurt’ in the English language. To be more descriptive, you can think of it as a homemade yogurt stew that has roasted cauliflower florets and tender pieces of lamb served with vermicelli rice. It is heavenly and all you need on a cold day to warm you up,
It may seem intimidating when you think of the meal as a whole but once the steps are broken down; you will see how easy and achievable it is to make this wholesome meal for your family. Al though it may take 3 hours to make this; 2 of those hours are really just the lamb cooking on its own!
How to cook the cauliflower in Zahra bi’laban
There are 3 ways to cook the cauliflower for this recipe and each will be just as good as the other. So whatever method you choose is entirely up to you and won’t effect the end result to this meal.
- Roast. You can season the florets in their spices and oil then place on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes on 375 F until golden and tender. This is typically the method I follow.
- Fry. You can deep fry the florets in a neutral oil until golden brown then season with salt, pepper, and cumin then set aside on a paper towel. This is the most common and traditional method as it is the fastest but it is not the healthiest so I avoid it.
- Air Fry. You can air fry your florets that have been seasoned and tossed in oil in a lightly oiled air fryer for 15-20 minutes on 400 F until tender and golden. This is the least traditional but you will receive great results too.
Typically, I either roast or air fry but as mentioned before; all of these ways are fantastic. You can’t go wrong with whatever you choose.
The main component of this meal is really the yogurt sauce that the lamb and cauliflower will sit in. It is also the most flavorful component as it is tangy, garlic forward, and so delicious. I make my yogurt very similiarly to how I would make my yogurt sauce for shish barak. It is very simple and results are always great. Add in those tender pieces of lamb and cauliflower and serve with rice for a comforting Palestinian meal.
If you do give my recipe a try or have any questions, please comment below! Also, tag me on my instagram with your remakes to see!
- 3 lbs Lamb Shoulder, cut into 10-12 pieces trim off excess fat
- 3 Cardamom Pods
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 1 Onion, quartered
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepepr
- 1 tbsp Allspice Powder
- 1 Large Cauliflower, cut into florets
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1/2 tbsp Cumin
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 32 oz Plain Yogurt
- 2 tbsp Corn Starch
- 2 cups Lamb Broth
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 Head of Garlic, minced
- 1.5 tbsp Olive oil
- First, rinse the meat thoroughly. Then, add it in a large pot covered in water. Bring to a boil and let this boil for about 15 min. Make sure to clean off the excess residue that will float on the top from the fat of the lamb. Just discard it in a bowl to have a clean and clear broth.
- Once the broth is cleaned, add the cardamom along with the onion and bay leaves. Also, add the salt, sugar, allspice, and black pepper. Stir together well.
- Let this simmer on low to medium heat covered with a lid for about 2 hours. Meanwhile, work on cooking the cauliflower.
- Toss the cauliflower in olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin very well.
- There are a few ways you can cook cauliflower. The most traditional would be to fry the cauliflower until tender and golden which means you wouldn't season it until after frying and olive oil wouldn't be needed. In my recipes, I rarely fry, Instead, I either roast my cauliflower on a baking sheet at 375 F for about 30-40 minutes until tender and golden or air fry at 400 F for 15 min until the same result is achieved. The method you choose is entirely up to you. Once cooked, set aside.
- Once the meat is cooked through and tender, remove the lamb pieces and set them aside. You will need to reserve the broth for the yogurt sauce and cook the rice with it. So, sift the broth into a bowl and set it to the side. I also like to take the meat off the bone and just use it that way in the yogurt sauce but that is up to you.
- In a blender, add the plain yogurt along with the lamb broth, corn starch, and salt. Blend all together then add this mixture to a pot. Let it simmer until it starts to bubble and slightly thicken. Once this happens, toss in the cooked cauliflower and lamb pieces. Stir together and let this cook for 15 min so all the flavors come together. Make sure to stir every few minutes on low heat.
- In the meantime, fry the minced garlic which will top the yogurt. Using a skillet, add the oil and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until golden and fragrant then toss on top of the cooked yogurt. Taste the sauce to see if any salt is necessary and adjust if so.
- Zahra bi'laban is served with vermicelli rice which I have a recipe for on my blog as well linked above. It can be ladled on top of the rice or adjacent to it or kept in a completely separate bowl. That is entirely up to to you!