A tabeekh base is the base used for most of the Sudanese stews that are defined as tabeekh. Variations in stews are made after first preparing the tabeekh base, similar to the format for making a mullah from a mullah base. A tabeekh base is similar to the mullah base described elsewhere however, contains less water and eventually incorporating a tomato base therefore finishes as a denser stew which is why a tabeekh suits being served with bread or rice as accompaniments.



  • 1 large yellow onion – finely chopped
  • 500-750g lamb on the bone – rinsed and chopped into large chunks
  • 2-3 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2-3 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • salt and pepper – to taste





  1. Add approx. 50ml oil to a pot and heat gently. Add finely chopped yellow onion and place on a low-medium heat to sweat the onions until lightly golden and soft in texture.
  1. Add chopped lamb on the bone: rinsed with water, chopped into large chunks. Turn the meat in the onions gently then add ground coriander, salt and pepper then stir well to evenly cover the meat and break down the onions. Cook the pieces of meat until they are all seared on the outside.
  1. Add boiling water until only just covering the lamb then turn the heat up to bring the water to boil.
  1. Remove any foam that forms on the surface as this is waste from the meat and should be discarded before continuing.
  1. Cover and leave on a low heat for 40min-1 hour or until the lamb is cooked tender.


At this stage the prepared mixture is known as a tabeekh base. The stages that follow build on the tabeekh base by adding tomato juice and paste as well as varying vegetables which distinguish the different stews.


As such, the tabeekh base at this stage can be cooled and stored by freezing in order to be saved for another day. This saves a lot of time, as the long stewing stage is eliminated and all that remains are a few steps that should only take 20-30mins to complete.


Sudanese ladies such as my mother cook and store tabeekh bases most weekends to save valuable cooking time in the week when coming home from work and/or when needing to make a meal in a relatively short amount of time for their families.



  • Crushed garlic can be added to the tabeekh base or added at the final stage of the varying stews for a fresher garlic taste
  • A pressurized cooking pot can be used to make the tabeekh base
  • Lamb stock cube, ground ginger, cinnamon or nutmeg or a mixed spice preparation can be used to season the tabeekh base




  • The onion should have disintegrated to the degree that it is unidentifiably disperse into the liquid of the tabeekh base. It would be advantageous to mash the onions after they soften in the pan with a mashing utensil or hand blender before adding the lamb. Mashed onions will flavor the lamb better and be better incorporated into the final stew.
  • Try to not add to much water when making the tabeekh base as the amount stated will help concentrate the flavour. The water level should only just submerge all the meat. More water, usually in the form of tomato juice will inevitably be added and as such the tabeekh base should be a concentrated stock solution which is built on to make the final stew.