Artichoke bottoms with a yogurt sauce

I made this today in memory of a great lunch I shared with a friend in Beirut recently; he took me to a place called Walima, that used to be located in a traditional old house, unfortunately  demolished since;  the homestyle restaurant had to move to a nearby location in a non-descript building; the cuisine however was still delicious and this was what I had ordered that day.

My version adds a lot of sumac to the minced meat and the yogurt sauce.


  • 1 bag of frozen artichoke bottoms (about 9 per bag)
  • 3/4 pound of ground lamb (400 g)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 pound of yogurt (1/2 kilo)
  • one egg
  • 2 heaping tbsp of cornstarch  
  • 1/4 cup of sumac
  • 1 cup of Basmati rice
  • Unsalted butter for the rice and pine nuts (or olive oil)
  • salt, a dash of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts


  1. Boil or steam the artichokes, following the directions on the package; don’t dump the water after the artichokes are tender, reserve about one  cup. Place the pine nuts on a piece of foil and toast in a 300F oven for 5 minutes till golden, stirring them from time to time with a spoon and watching them to make sure they don’t brown.
  2. Cut the bottom of the artichokes in order to make them more steady on the dish. Place the boiled artichokes side by side on a rectangular oven-proof  dish, tucking the pointed tips in between. Brown the lamb in a skillet and drain the fat out. Chop the onion and fry it too in a little fat or oil and mix it with the lamb. Sprinkle two tablespoons of sumac on the meat mixture, some nutmeg and salt to taste. Add 1/2 cup of water (can use artichoke water) on the meat mixture, cover the pan and let it simmer gently for a few minutes to cook the meat thoroughly.
  3. Stuff the artichokes with the meat and onion mixture. 
  4. In a small skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil; add mashed garlic and fry for 10 seconds; add one tablespoon of sumac and stir.
  5. Place the yogurt and one egg on the stove in a saucepan; dissolve two heaping tablespoons of cornstarch in 1/2 cup of artichoke water and add to the yogurt; start stirring in the same direction for a few minutes over low heat until the yogurt steams, start to bubble up and its texture thickens noticeably.
  6. Remove from the heat and add the fried garlic and sumac to it, stirring to mix it well.
  7. Pour the yogurt over the artichokes, sprinkle with the  pine nuts  and  serve with rice.


Any remaining ground meat and onion can be combined with the rice for a nice pilaf.

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  1. Posted October 25, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Okay, I think I’ve died and gone to heaven! Several years ago one of our friends in Beirut made stuffed artichoke hearts with green peas and it was so disappointing. This looks incredible! Can’t wait to try it!

  2. Posted October 25, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Wow, these look fabulous. They look like a perfect comfort food. Is this considered an appetizer or main dish? Either way I am all for it!

  3. Posted October 25, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    This is such a creative dish. I’ve never thought to use artichoke hearts as vessels. It must be very good!

  4. Posted October 26, 2010 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    i’ve somehow stumbled upon your blog and am loving all your recipes. they’re wonderfully insightful as to the beauty of lebanese food. i never knew artichoke bottoms were even sold separately! these look delicious!

  5. Posted October 26, 2010 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    Wow this looks soooo good! I love anything that I can sprinkle or incorporate sumac into!!

  6. Posted October 26, 2010 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    this sounds wonderful. i absolutely love artichoke hearts.

  7. Suzanne
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    I had forgotten about this wonderful dish. I cannot wait to make it, but it will be even better in spring with fresh artichoke, although that would take twice as long to prepare.

  8. Posted October 26, 2010 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    A wonderful artichoke recipe! That dish looks scrumptious.



  9. Posted October 26, 2010 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    Another winner, Joumana!
    I think it might be very good in mushrooms, too.

  10. Posted October 26, 2010 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    it looks yummy…

  11. Posted October 26, 2010 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    Frozen artichoke bottoms?!?! Where have they been all my life?

  12. Posted October 26, 2010 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    I also have an artichoke recipe posted at the moment… This looks so much better though!

  13. Posted October 26, 2010 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    I’m really impressed with this recipe, Joumana! Artichokes are such a favorite in my family…I’ve been eating them all my life. And of course, the bottom is the best part. (although it’s fun dipping and eating the leaves, too!)
    Flavorful stuffing and such a fun presentation!

  14. Posted October 26, 2010 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I am always amazed at how simple so many of your dishes are yet so utterly fabulous! The flavors are wonderful. This looks particularly good!

  15. Posted October 26, 2010 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I don’t think that the rice will be good with this dish.

  16. Posted October 26, 2010 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    You’ve just given me the solution I’ve dreamed of – I love artichokes, but hate the prep work. But, frozen bottoms?!! Wonderful!

  17. Posted October 26, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Dear Joumana – I have NEVER cooked with artichoke bottoms – they intimidate me! Can I honestly buy them frozen? Where????

    Great flavors with the pine nuts and the sumac :)

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  18. Posted October 26, 2010 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Joumana, this looks GOOODOOOD! My mum makes something very very similar to this. It is always such a hit at the table. Love the combination of your ingrediants. Everything has such a mild but distinct flavour!

  19. Posted October 26, 2010 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    What a lovely dish, Joumana!! So special too! I have never seen this before,…

  20. Posted October 26, 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I love artichoke hearts! Any way I can get them. This looks like a great recipe as I also love sumac and garlic and beans… and and … the comments have also convinced me that this is a special dish (as if I needed convincing).

  21. Posted October 26, 2010 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    We love artichokes in our family. A freshly boiled artichoke with a butter and mustard sauce are a delight. The bottom is the treasure :) These sound wonderful!

  22. Posted October 26, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Great dish, Joumama! Stuffed anything is a huge hit in my house.

  23. Posted October 26, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Love love the simplicity and flavor of this recipe. I used to make artichokes stuffed with rice and ground beef… these look easier and tastier!

  24. Posted October 26, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    What a great way to make artichokes!!!!Beautiful dish for a dinner party!

  25. Joumana
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    I find these frozen artichoke bottoms stocked year-round at my neighborhood middle-eastern store in Dallas; they are distributed in the US but originally come from farms in Egypt.

    Eva: This dish was served with rice, which is the traditional way; however the rice used was the rice and vermicelli that accompanies most stews in Lebanese kitchens.

  26. Posted October 26, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    I love those cute artichoke cups that holds the meat. It is a dish to rave about.

  27. Posted October 26, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    mmmm..I think I will make this tomorrow for my one year old:) thanx

  28. Posted October 26, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Great recipe Joumana! I love artichokes and love your idea of pairing them with ground lamb and yogurt! Delish!

  29. Posted October 26, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    this looks good! A creative dish Joumana…Cheers Chiara

  30. SYLVIA
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Joumana, this is your culinary creativity, and a very chic recipe to serve at dinner parties top with sprinkling of frizzled pine nuts, your house will fill with aromas of nutmeg and garlic, it will make the neighborhood envy you.

  31. Posted October 26, 2010 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    I love artichokes, I love your recipes, but what I do love the most is the pictures that you take about the products you use…..that helps me a lot when I go to the Arabic grocery store…..when I go there, I see the same brands and names…..Thanks to you, I know how to use them!!…..Abrazotes, Marcela

  32. Posted October 26, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Joumana, this artichokes look awesome…I can almost taste the flavor of these artichokes…yummie!

  33. Posted October 27, 2010 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    I love artichokes and definitely don’t eat them as much as I’d like! This recipe has me drooling though. That yogurt sauce sounds lovely.

  34. Posted October 27, 2010 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Been waiting to cook with goat and the chilli looks sublime. I also love the artichoke and lamb dish-Yum!
    Well done!!!

  35. Posted October 27, 2010 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I can find these artichoke bottoms at the Middle-eastern store and they are very good! Another creative way to use ground lamb…yum!

  36. Caroline Brennan
    Posted October 27, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Joumana, I made this dish last night, I followed your recipe to the tee, and it was delicious! My husband loved it. I plan on maikng it regularly.
    It was also quite quick to make which was nice.

    Question: why put an egg in the yoghurt?

    Thanks so much,
    Caroline Brennan

    Washington DC.

  37. Posted October 27, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I love this recipe and I love your addition of sumac and yogurt!!

  38. Posted October 27, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    what a wonderful dish! how lucky are you to find cleaned artichoke bottoms, i love artichokes but don’t like the work of cleaning them and all.

  39. Joumana
    Posted October 27, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Caroline, I am so happy you liked it! you can make do without the egg in the yogurt, just make sure you use some cornstarch; for me, it is a habit because that was my grandmother and mother used to do; it is supposed to stabilize the yogurt so it does not curdle. I have also used the egg white only plus the cornstarch, which works as well.

  40. Posted October 27, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant! Some of my favorite foods–artichokes, basmati rice, and artichokes. Lovely work as always.

  41. Posted October 29, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    This sounds awesome – such wonderful flavors! Now I seriously wish I had frozen artichoke bottoms available to make this quickly… so much easier than prepping the fresh ones!

  42. Posted October 31, 2010 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Very nice combination of flavors in this recipe. I especially like the ground lamb in it. Artichokes are a little difficult to find in my area, though Elliptical Trainer

  43. Posted January 7, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    How can I get your images to show on my Blackberry?

  44. Posted May 15, 2011 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    excellent stuff :P really appreciated this article, i’m going to read more on your site soon after i am finished with my work! ;)

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Artichoke bottoms with pasta and shrimp on April 26, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    [...] with a foodie friend in Beirut; we were discussing artichokes and that exquisite Lebanese dish of stuffed artichoke bottoms with minced lamb and yogurt; I mentioned I used frozen bottoms imported [...]

  2. […] with a foodie friend in Beirut; we were discussing artichokes and that exquisite Lebanese dish of stuffed artichoke bottoms with minced lamb and yogurt; I mentioned I used frozen bottoms imported from Egypt. His reaction was: “What? You are […]

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