Lamb and Quince Stew



The first time I tried this recipe I found it on a Turkish site where the dish was called “ayva yahnisi”.  Very quickly this became one of “most wanted recipes” and “the most wanted recipe” including quinces even before any sweet preparation with them!

I can remember that this was not only the most wanted recipe in autumn when quinces were ready but also the last dish I prepared almost in spring when I was running out of quinces (stored in a fresh place!) and I knew I would have to wait a long long time until I would get the new the fresh ones.

This weekend it was quinces harvest in my garden and this recipe came as usual at the first place.

To change a little bit and to make this more attractive and photogenic I studies variation of this dish in the internet and I found that in Greece something very similar is known under the name of “kydonato” (κυδωνάτο). The Greek dish may be prepared with lamb, goat,  veal or pork and includes not only cinnamon but also bay leaves.  Some recipes calls for lemon juice instead of pomegranate molasses and as herbs/spices you can find additions as for example cloves, oregano or bay. Carrots or silver onions were among of the possible ingredients as well.

On we can read:

“The quince is like a deceitful beauty. It has a voluptuous shape, a heavenly aroma, an attractive appearance. But once you bite into it, it shocks you with its hard, tart nature. The quince needs sugar or honey to be edible, and it is probably the only fruit that can’t be eaten raw.

Despite that, however, the quince is one of the oldest cultivated fruits, known to the ancient Greeks and to the Romans, both of whom thought it was a type of apple. The Greek name for quince, kidoni, comes from Kidonia in ancient Crete, which was renowned for the quality of the fruit that grew there. In antiquity, Corinthian quinces were also highly esteemed, especially for their beautiful appearance, according to Athenaeus. To the ancients, the quince was a symbol of fertility and was dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite. At ancient Athenian weddings, the bride was given a quince, as a token of and wish for fruitfulness.

The quince was also highly prized during the Middle Ages, especially by the French, who prepared a kind of marmalade, called “cotignac”, with the fruit. In Orleans, cotignac was given as a gift to royal visitors to the city. Legend has it that the French king Francois I loved cotignac so much that he ate it with tears in his eyes.

It’s not by coincidence that the main use for quince in the kitchen has always been in marmalade. The fruit contains a large amount of pectin, which helps marmalades and jam to set. The word marmalade in fact comes from the Portuguese word for quince, “marmelo”, and it dates to the time when Francois I ate his cotignac tearfully, for then Portugal was renowned for the quality of its quinces.

Today, there are probably few people for whom the quince and its jam are reason to cry. We still make quince jam and marmalade and spoon sweet, as well as baked quince with spices. In other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and in North Africa, the quince is used readily in many savory stews. The Greeks from Poli  have their kidonato, beef stewed with quince, and there are a few scant recipes within the repertory of Greek cookery that call for the quince cooked with other meats, especially chicken, pork and lamb. Maybe it would be more apt to say that the fruit is less a deceitful beauty than a misunderstood one”.

My today’s choice was simply the addition bay and fresh savory, minor change of the steps and new way to present this dish!

To make this recipe easy to be prepared and at the same time more beautiful I decided to work with two skillets; the result was magnificent and the taste di-vi-ne!

Suggestion for other variations: add little coriander ground to the spices or and sprinkle with fresh cilantro (fresh coriander) just before serving.

And now here my new recipe.

Lamb and Quince Stew

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print




You need:

For the meat:

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 kg lamb, fat removed, cut in 2-3 cm pieces
  • 1 large onion or two medium ones slices (I used a yellow and a red one)
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 seeds allspice, whole
  • 5 savory springs (or fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried ones)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • black pepper, freshly ginded, quantity to taste

For the caramelized quinces:

  • 2 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 kg (optional) quinces, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Heat on medium-high temperature deep skillets with each 2 tablespoon olive oil.
  2. Add lamb in dived in both skillets and brown on all sides.
  3. In the meantime peel and slice the onions.
  4. When the meat is ready transfer the lamb in only one skilled and add water.
  5. In the second empty skillet add one tablespoon oil and fry the onions until borders are browned.
  6. While the onions are cooking add the molasses, herbs, spices and salt to the lamb. Simmer covered.
  7. Transfer the onions over the meat, cover and simmer always covered for about one hour or until meat is tender. This is a stew and the meat should be kept in juices so if necessary add little water
  8. At this point it is time to use the second skillet for the quinces: melt the butter in a butter add the quinces, sprinkle with sugar and cook over high heat (don’t cover!) for several minutes until caramelized. Turn the pieces from time to time. Add allspice and cinnamon, stir once, and place around of the lamb in the skillet.
  9. Cover, and simmer gently for about 15 minutes or until quinces are tender but not mush.
  10. Serve hot with fresh bread, bulgur, rice or what you like!



4 thoughts on “Lamb and Quince Stew

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