Ramadan Cooking: Lamb Makhtoom
23 Jun 2017

Ramadan Cooking: Lamb Makhtoom

23 Jun 2017

It’s almost the end of Ramadan, and I was hoping to cook a few more dishes before I’m no longer allowed to leave work an hour earlier.  I found a YouTube channel called Saudi Food Eman, and I really liked her videos.  This lamb makhtoom looked simple enough to make, and I happened to have some lamb stashed in the freezer from my trip to the market last weekend.

The original recipe called for lamb ribs, but premium lamb French cutlets cost and arm an a leg at B.I.G. (RM200/kg! Ohmigosh!), and the ribs I saw at the market were just too skinny with barely any meat.  Update: I just realized that the correct cut to ask for at my wet market butcher was lamb chops, not ribs.  RM43/kg, not bad at all!  I made this dish again with ribs, and could definitely taste the difference.  The bones added really good flavor to the sauce, and there’s just some strange satisfaction in gnawing juicy meat off the bone.  Don’t skimp on the cilantro, it adds such wonderful dimension to the dish.  

Eman said with lamb chops this dish would only need 10 minutes in the pressure cooker, but I noticed that with my Philips electric pressure cooker, even after 30 minutes it could still use a bit more cooking time.  My first time making this I used lamb shoulder chunks, and I also adjusted the cooking time accordingly.

Another first was using Arabic gum.  In Eman’s video she called it “mystic gum,” but after Googling around I discovered that the word she meant was mastic gum, also known as Arabic gum or Yemen gum.  It is apparently *not* the same as gum Arabic (like, seriously), which is also known as Acacia gum.  I didn’t know this at the time, and I ended up getting both the Arabic and acacia gum.  I used the acacia gum when I made this dish, actually.  Will need to make this again with the Arabic gum proper, to see if there’s any difference in taste.

I loved this dish. The flavor of the tomatoes were nicely infused into the meat, and the cinnamon gave it a lovely sweet aroma.  The tomatoes I had on hand were really small and I had to adjust to what I think the amount should be, but in the end I think there wasn’t enough liquid and the dish turned out a little salty (I still could eat a lot of it though).  Need to make this again to get it right.

Lamb Makhtoom


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 whole cardamom pods (buah pelaga)
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 2 small pieces Arabic gum
  • 1 kilogram lamb chops, OR bone-in lamb shoulder chunks
  • 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (daun ketumbar), for garnish


In a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil.

Add the cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, Arabic gum, and the lamb.

Cook, stirring, until the lamb is browned on all sides.

In a blender, blitz the tomatoes with the yoghurt until nicely pureed.

Add the tomato mixture to the pot.

Add the salt, ground black pepper, and tomato paste.  Stir to evenly combine.

Bring to a boil, then transfer to your pressure cooker pot.

Cover and cook, using the Beef/Mutton setting, 40 minutes.  If using lamb shoulder chunks, cook for 1 hour (59 minutes).  The meat should be fork tender when done.  Garnish with the chopped cilantro, and serve with rice.

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