How to Cook Like a Moroccan Mum: Steamed Lamb Mechoui

The perfect Eid Al Adha feast includes cooking mechoui like a Moroccan mum. Photo credit:

One of the best things about Eid Al Adha is my Moroccan mother-in-law’s mouthwatering, moist, and tender lamb mechoui. We usually enjoy it on the second day of Eid and, in my opinion, there is nothing better. This year, however, because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, I will not be able to make it to Essaouira for the feast, so I have had to learn how to cook steamed lamb mechoui like a Moroccan mum!

Honestly, this is one of my all-time favorite Moroccan dishes, and I do not take the challenge lightly. The disappointment of making a sub-par lamb mechoui for my son’s second Eid Al Adha would be very serious!

A quick three-way phone call with my mother-in-law in Essaouira and her sister in Casablanca, however, quickly allayed my fears — according to the two expert Moroccan mums, the process could not be simpler.

Apparently, all I needed was a pressure cooker and steamer basket and everything would be okay!

I have to admit, I have practiced the timings, spices, and water levels several times in order to make sure I get it right on the day. I think my British parents have just about had enough of tasting slight variations of the same steamed lamb mechoui recipe, but it is all worth it. We will have an Eid Al Adha feast, worthy of my Moroccan mum-in-law.

Time for a trip to the souk (do not forget your mask!):

This recipe does not need many ingredients but good quality meat is important. If you are, like me, in a rural village in southern England, a quick trip to the butchers and a perusal of grandma’s herb garden should do the trick. The ingredients are, obviously, easy to get hold off in Moroccan souks and supermarkets wherever your kitchen is.

2 kilograms of lamb on the bone (I usually ask the butcher to trim the fat)

3 tablespoons of smen (ghee-like butter) if you can get it or make it  — salted butter is a perfect alternative.

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

A generous bunch of rosemary (my mother-in-law uses parsley and coriander with a pinch of saffron but I prefer this English twist)

A bulb of garlic

3 large onions cut into quarters

More salt

Cumin for serving

Now it’s time to get cooking:
  1. Pour 2-3 liters of water into your pressure cooker (I use a 6-liter pressure cooker so water levels will depend on size).
  2. Add two tablespoons of cooking salt and bring to the boil (you can also use stock or bouillon for extra taste).
  3. Meanwhile, rub the lamb in butter, salt, and pepper, and peel the garlic cloves.
  4. Arrange the rosemary, garlic, and onions on the bottom of the steamer basket and place the meat on top.
  5. Once the water is at the boil, cover tightly and leave to cook on a medium heat for 1 hour.
  6. After one hour, carefully take off the lid and check the water levels. You may need to add a little more. Cover again, and leave on the heat for a further 45 minutes.
  7. The meat should now be tender and falling off the bone. Serve on a large dish, with salt and cumin for dipping.

Now your steamed lamb mechoui is ready to devour! Enjoy.

Read also: How to Cook Like a Moroccan Mum: Lamb and Vegetable Couscous