Tunisian Lamb Stew (Koucha)

February 13, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This Tunisian hearty lamb stew is made with potatoes in a gargoulette-type vessel, referred to as golla or kolla, that resembles a jug lying on its side. You can prepare it in a tightly-sealed cast-iron or heavy-based pot in the oven, or to save time, in a pressure cooker. Feel free to add a cup of drained, canned chickpeas, if you'd like. If you'd rather use beef than lamb, go for it.

Ras-el-hanout is an essential North African spice mix available at spice stores and some delis. If you can’t find any, make a simple substitute with 1/3 teaspoon of each of these ground spices: cumin, coriander, cinnamon, paprika, fine black pepper, turmeric, plus one finely crushed cardamom pod.

Featured In: The Tunisian Lamb Stew I First Tasted in the Desert, Recreated at Home
Ishay Govender-Ypma

Serves: 4


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes, or purchase pre-cut lamb stew meat (with bones, if possible)
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced thickly
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2-3 teaspoons ras-el-hanout
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves destalked
  • 1/3 cup thyme, de-stemmed
  • 1 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 large potatoes, cut into 8 wedges each
  • 2 large green or red bell peppers, cut into thick strips
  • 500 milliliters (about 2 cups) vegetable or lamb stock, plus extra salt, to taste
  • 3 boiled eggs (optional)
In This Recipe


  1. In a large cast-iron saucepan or pot, turn the heat to medium-high, add the oil and fry the onions until translucent, stirring with a wooden spoon. Take off the heat and set aside. In a different pan, add the meat in batches, and brown on all sides. When done, add to the pan with the onions. When done with all the batches, add all the remaining meat and the juices to the saucepan or pot with the onions.
  2. Add the garlic, spices and herbs to the saucepan/pot and stir well to coat the lamb. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring well.
  3. Add the tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, stock, and salt and cook for 10 minutes, covered. While stew is cooking, preheat the oven, with rack on the lower third, to 320° Fahrenheit.
  4. Remove lid, set pot aside and cover the top carefully with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Make a small gash in the center with a sharp knife. Transfer to the oven and cook for an hour. Remove from oven, carefully peel back foil and add more stock or water, as needed.
  5. Cover pot tightly and return to the oven for another 45 minutes to an hour or until lamb is tender and potatoes are soft (but not mushy).
  6. Adjust seasoning. Serve hot, decorated with slices of boiled egg, if using, and a tomato and onion salad, and a big squeeze of lemon.

More Great Recipes:
Stew|African|Lamb|Fry|Cast Iron

Reviews (13) Questions (0)

13 Reviews

Bagelishads October 1, 2018
when you cover the pot tightly after an hour, is that with an actual lid?
Peggy G. May 14, 2018
Photo simply looks like butternut squash or carrots.
All would be yummy.
marilu May 12, 2018
It's 62 degrees in San Diego, California (oh, boo-hoo), and I decided that a warm and savory stew would be comforting for dinner tonight. I'm in no way an experienced cook, but this recipe was easy to follow. The result was a delicious meal that my husband and I were able to delight in as we spooned this atop coconut jasmine rice. Thank you so much for the recipe. Can't wait to share this with others!
Jacquie April 16, 2018
Made it as specified and it was very good. Next time I think I would omt the potatoes and substitute chick peas.
Author Comment
Ishay G. April 17, 2018
Hi Jacquie. I'm a fan of potatoes, but chickpeas would be great in the stew too. Glad you enjoyed it.
Peggy G. March 14, 2018
Carrots were not listed in recipe. Please add carrots to recipe. I would update recipe to show using Olive Oil
Author Comment
Ishay G. April 17, 2018
Hi Peggy! You're correct - we didn't use carrots in this recipe. You can add them to yours. Olive oil is the traditional ingredient used, but if someone doesn't have any, they can use regular cooking oil, because its a small amount and doesn't affect the taste profile overall.
Guðrún R. February 21, 2018
In step 5 do you mean cover the top with the aluminum foil or the lid ?
Author Comment
Ishay G. February 21, 2018
Hello. With the foil. Hope you enjoy it if you try the recipe.
Catharine February 17, 2018
Could you also provide the details on how to convert this for a pressure cooker? Thank you.
Author Comment
Ishay G. February 20, 2018
Hi Catharine. I haven’t tested the recipe for a pressure cooker version so can’t help you with accuracy. I hope you try it though.
Nic C. March 10, 2018
I guess this is obvious but I'll say it anyway: since the recipe states you can save time by preparing it in a pressure cooker, it would be helpful if you had tips or instructions for preparing it in a pressure cooker.
Author Comment
Ishay G. April 17, 2018
Hi Nic. We didn't want to exclude those familiar with pressure cooking, or those who might be put off by a longer cooking time because they usually use a pressure cooker, or Instant Pot for example. The tip was provided to be inclusive, but setting out instructions for each device would mean an entire new recipe and page. I hope you understand and will try the recipe in whatever manner you find most convenient.