Lamb ‘Madfoon’ – Halloween Special


It is Halloween again, and what better way to celebrate than with our very own zombie exhumation.

“Madfoon” (مدفون  – literally ‘buried’, in Arabic) is a popular cooking method in the Arabian Gulf Region. Variants of this method can be found all over the world. The Hangi in New Zealand, and Kalua in Hawaii, are two examples of this.

This can be done using lamb, beef, chicken, pork, and even fish. Our recipe below is for a 3Kg leg of lamb.

Thank you to our dear friend Antonie Robertson for the photography.



  • 3 Kg leg of lamb
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Ground allspice
  • 2 ounces of Jack Daniel’s
  • 150 gms of full-fat yogurt

What you will need for the Madfoon:



  1. Combine all your loose ingredients in a bowl and rub the mixture onto the leg of lamb
  2. Create a thick ‘tray’ out of 4-6 layers of foil. Place this underneath the leg. This thicker layer of foil will trap the juices as they sweat out of the meat
  3. Wrap your should with 6-8 layers of foil. You want this to be thick enough to hold all the juices from the leg as it cooks
  4. Store the leg in a refrigerator for 24 hours to marinate

Cooking method:

  1. Take your lamb out of the cool box 1-2 hours before cooking. You want the lamb to warm up to ‘room temperature’ so as to cook evenly
  2. Pass the leg of lamb through 2-3 coat hangers, and bend the hangers to secure to the lamb. The hooks of the coat hangers should be on the top half of the lamb, so it will be easy to remove the wrapped lamb out of the ground once it is done, without needing to dig too much around it and risk tearing the foil
  3. Dig a hole in the ground about four times the size of your leg of lamb. You will need to add the hot rocks, charcoal, and sand into the hole, so it would be best to leave some extra room.
  4. Create a coal or wood fire next to the hole. You will need a large fire to get this done. We normally use 2 KGs of charcoal to each Kg of lamb
  5. Once the fire is burning evenly and very hot drop half your embers into the bottom of the pit
  6. Add your leg of lamb – coat hangers facing the top half
  7. Add the rest of your coal around the sides of the lamb, and on top
  8. Add some hot rocks from the fire around the sides of the lamb
  9. Cover the pit with sand, and add a grave stone
  10. Leave this for 1 hour for every KG of lamb – 3 KGs of lamb = 3 hours of cooking
  11. Once you have exhumed the body, have a tray ready to drain the juice into
  12. Make a hole in the foil and drain all the juice from it
  13. Tear the foil length ways and peel open to reveal your succulent piece of lamb





9 thoughts on “Lamb ‘Madfoon’ – Halloween Special

  1. In Peru they make Pachamanca. This is also cooked in the earth (pacha), but they put all the meat, potatoes and spices in an earthenware dish and bury the dishes in the ground with the coal and rocks. It is delicious.

  2. Haha, I had a good laugh when I saw Jack Daniels listed in the recipe. Quite sure that is not part of the original recipe in Yemeni cuisine. 😉 Very awesome that you recreated your own style of a “tabun/taboon” if you will. Looks yum!

  3. this just look amazing. Would love to try soon with my pals. only one question however. LEt’s say for a 3kg meat u need approximately 6 kg coal. but once you cover it with sand, due to lack of oxygen the coal will die out or they will completely burn out as normal?
    also once u covered ur foil wrapped meat inside the coal and stones and then with sand. we need to open it after 3 hours or need to check after every hour or so? and to add coal if required

  4. How nostalgic, we used to do this a lot more when I was younger. Love the pictures and the way they captured the whole process. Would it be alright to use on of the photos on a post and link it back to this blog page (if you don’t mind that is)?

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