Dobo: Lamb has never tasted this good


The consumption of lamb is deeply rooted in Anatolian cuisine. Partially due to the nomadic nature of the Turks and the small stature of the animal making it easier to feed than say, a cow. For centuries this animal has been consumed in many ways, kibe mumbar just being one of those. But today we are looking at one simple dish that elevated lamb to new heights.

What is dobo?

Dobo quite literally means “lamb leg” and that is precisely what is being prepared. It is stuffed with garlic and other seasoning and cooked to perfection. The key here is the placement of the seasoning to make the flavor unfold and how long the leg needs to cook to keep its shape.

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The origins

Tracing back the origin of the dish leads us to the Assyrian Empire, to be precise to King Ashurnasirpal II in the year of 879 BC. The king was celebrating the completion of his palace and gave a feast that survives in scriptures to this day. It describes the thousands and thousands of lambs, sheep, goats, poultry and much more that were served. Alongside wines and honeyed sherbets, the Assyrian king presented his guests with a feast that we still talk about today. But don’t let the wide variety of meats fool you. The preparation was meticulous and precise. Each dish would only have a few ingredients, mostly only one or two, but paired perfectly, meaning that lamb would only paired with the right seasoning and cooked to perfection so that the meat can unfold its flavor potential to the fullest. This simplicity has survived for centuries and can still be found in the cuisine of southeastern Anatolia, and in this case, Mardin. (1)

For this very reason dobo is to this day referred to as the “food of the king” and thus prepared for guests that are held in high regard. The dish is usually accompanied with bulgur pilaf and is considered incomplete if it is not served in this manner. (2)

While this dish consists mainly of the meat itself, it is of utmost importance that it keeps it shape even after it is cooked and how the garlic is arranged within the meat. The addition of almonds is a variation of this dish. (3)


Dobo is also known as döbo, is the descriptor of the leg of the lamb itself. The origin of the name most likely dates back to the Assyrians as it does not come from Persian or Arabic.

Dobo: Lamb has never tasted this good

This one might take more than one try to get just right but considering the ingredients, even a “failed” result will taste absolutely heavenly.


  • 1 leg of a lamb should be about 2 kg
  • 100 gr almonds
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 800 ml water
  • 15-20 whole black peppers
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt


  • Blanch the almonds in hot water and toss them into cold water to remove the skin.
  • Peel the cloves of garlic but leave them intact.
  • Cut indents into the leg of the lamb every 3-4 cm and place the garlic, almonds and pepper pieces inside.
  • Close them by pressing the meat together.
  • Melt the butter in a pot that is wide enough for the leg and roast the meat from all sides.
  • Dissolve the tomato paste in the water and pour that over the meat until it is just covered.
  • Bring it to a boil and add the salt and remaining seasoning into the water.
  • Close off with a lit and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Serve hot with a side of bulgur pilaf.



(1) Lokman Toprak, Mardin ve Yemek Kültürü, 2015

(2) Muzaffer İris, Süryani Mutfak Kültürü ve Yemekleri, 2011

(3) Abdullatif Yılmaz, Dobo published in “Gazete İpekyol”,7315.html


Course: Ana Yemek
Cuisine: Turkish
Keyword: Lamb