Roman Lamb.

Marcus Gavius Apicius was a wealthy Roman gourmet who lived in the decades either side of the beginnings of the Christian era. He is reputed to have prepared a work known as ‘Ars Culinaria’, [The Art of Cookery], which was a treatise on sauces, and from which I derived the inspiration for the recipe below. Roman Lamb is a much simplified version of Apicius’ ‘Haedem sive agnammax caldatum’ [kid or lamb stew]. Whether or not he wrote the book[s] is questionable, as it seems that even within his own lifetime the name ‘Apicius’ came to be used as a synonym for gourmand or glutton, and by the fourth or fifth centuries had become a general term for cookbooks and treatises on cooking. You can ponder these weighty matters as you eat your Roman Lamb, washed down, perhaps, with a glass of mulsum [honeyed wine]. 


¼ cup olive oil.

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped.

1 tblsp coriander, ground.

1 tsp cumin, ground.

1 tsp ground black pepper.

Salt to taste.

400g lean lamb, diced.

2 tblsp plain flour.

1 cup sour cream.

½ cup chopped parsley. 


Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onion. Cook until soft, then add the spices, stir frying for about 2 minutes. Add the meat, stirring over a moderate heat to ensure that it is sealed and covered with the onion/spice mixture. Add the flour and stir through. 

Add the sour cream slowly, stirring it in well, until bubbling and thickened. Cover and cook gently for about 1 – 1½ hours depending on the quality of the meat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. 

Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 3-4 hours. Reheat gently, stir in the parsley, and serve over rice. 

Serves 2.


  • By Exploring Stew: Second in a Series on 14/07/2015 at 20:19

    […] influenced by the Berber people from Libya, Tunisia and Algeria. This recipe for a lightly seasoned Lamb Stew (Aliter haedinam sive agninam excaldatam), which was served with lentils and bread clearly reflects […]

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