Heavenly Zurbian: Spiced Rice and Meat Delight


Indulge in the aromatic flavors of Zurbian, a traditional Yemeni dish that beautifully marries fragrant basmati rice with tender, spiced meat. This culinary masterpiece is perfect for special occasions or a memorable family dinner, offering a tantalizing blend of spices and succulent meat that promises to transport your taste buds to the heart of Yemen.

Heavenly Zurbian: Spiced Rice and Meat Delight

Preparation and Cooking Times

  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours

Servings and Serving Size

  • Servings: 6
  • Serving Size: 1 bowl (approximately 300 grams)

Nutritional Information (per serving)

  • Calories: 450
  • Protein: 25g
  • Fat: 15g
  • Carbohydrates: 55g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Sodium: 800mg


  • 1 kg (2.2 lbs) lamb or chicken, cut into pieces
  • 500g (2.5 cups) basmati rice
  • 2 large onions, finely sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 200g (1 cup) plain yogurt
  • 50g (1.7 oz) ghee or clarified butter
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 cups water or chicken broth
  • Fresh cilantro and mint leaves for garnish

Method of Preparation

  1. In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, ground black pepper, and salt.
  2. Add the meat pieces, ensuring they are well-coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  3. Rinse the basmati rice under cold water until the water runs clear. Soak in water for 30 minutes, then drain.
  4. In a large pot, heat the ghee over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook until golden brown.
  5. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until soft.
  7. Add the marinated meat to the pot, cooking until the meat is browned on all sides.
  8. Add the bay leaves, cloves, green cardamom pods, and cinnamon stick. Stir well.
  9. Pour in the water or chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender.
  10. In a separate large pot, bring a generous amount of water to a boil. Add the drained rice and cook until the rice is about 70% cooked (the grains should still be firm).
  11. Drain the rice and set aside.
  12. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
  13. Layer the partially cooked rice over the meat mixture in the pot. Do not stir.
  14. Cover the pot with aluminum foil and a tight-fitting lid. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the rice is fully cooked and fluffy.
  15. Gently fluff the rice with a fork, mixing it with the meat.
  16. Garnish with fresh cilantro and mint leaves.

Tips for Culinary Success

  • Ensure the meat is well-marinated to absorb the spices deeply.
  • Do not overcook the rice initially to prevent it from becoming mushy.
  • Use a heavy-bottomed pot to avoid burning the meat and rice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I use chicken instead of lamb?
  • Yes, you can substitute lamb with chicken. Adjust the cooking time as chicken cooks faster.
Can I make this dish in advance?
  • Yes, Zurbian can be prepared a day in advance. Reheat gently to avoid drying out the meat and rice.
What can I serve with Zurbian?
  • Serve Zurbian with a side of fresh salad, yogurt sauce, or a tangy pickle for a complete meal.

Transport your taste buds to the aromatic kitchens of Yemen with this delectable Zurbian recipe. Perfect for sharing with loved ones, this spiced rice and meat dish will surely become a favorite in your culinary repertoire. Enjoy every flavorful bite!