I always think of my Uncle Larry when I eat sherwa. It’s his favorite, and every year on his birthday my mother makes it. I’ve made it a handful of times over the years when I know I have company coming over and people’s response to their first bite is always, “oh my God”. Like all Assyrian cooking it’s extremely simple, very healthy, and easy! No oils, no dairy…just meat, veggies, and water. I think that’s part of the magic of Assyrian cuisine – it was “paleo” long before the paleo-diet became a fad. And since we’ve been working with these ingredients for thousands of years, we’ve perfected how to use them to the max!
When you go to the butcher to get the lamb, try to get bone-in lamb shoulder. Ask the butcher to cut up the bone with the meat, then discard any big pieces of it later. The bone will add a lot of extra flavor to the stew. If you can’t get the shoulder, just get a boneless leg of lamb cut up for stew. It’ll be great either way.
My mother and I like sherwa that is a little thicker, almost like a ragu. But if you would like the consistency to be a little more “soupy”, don’t cook it down quite as much or add a little water towards the end. Enjoy it with a nice crusty piece of French bread. It makes a ton (12ish servings) but freezes beautifully. Even when I make a half recipe I end up freezing a bunch of it.
-5 lbs lamb shoulder cut into 1-inch pieces, fat trimmed, or a boneless leg of lamb
-1 cup water
-2 tsp salt
-2 white onions, chopped
-2 tbl paprika
-28oz canned peeled tomatoes, cut in large chunks (I like Pomi)
-8oz tomato sauce
-1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into small chunks
-4 peeled white potatoes, cut into 8 pieces each
Wash the meat. Combine lamb, water and salt in a large pot over medium heat. Add the white onions. After about 15 minutes add the paprika and continue to cook until water goes down about 1/2 inch from the bottom. Be careful not to burn. (If you pull the meat/onion with a wooden spoon, the liquid should be thick enough to pull off the bottom of the pot).
Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, 2-3 glasses of cold water and about 1 tbl black pepper. Bring to a boil and add the eggplant. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook another 30 minutes until potatoes are done.
Serve with french bread and a small side salad of green onion, radishes, cucumbers and tomatoes.