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Albanian Tavë Kosi Traditional Recipe

Albanian Tavë Kosi Traditional Recipe

Tavë Kosi is an Albanian dish of baked lamb and rice. The lamb is first boiled or sautéed until tender. It is then covered with a yogurt sauce along with cooked rice then baked.

Tavë means casserole and kos means yogurt. The ingredients used to make this dish are very simple and easily found in any household pantry, except for the lamb perhaps. The lamb can also be cooked by grilling before baking. Cooking the lamb twice ensures that the meat becomes very tender.

Origin and Cultural Significance

Tavë Kosi is thought to have originated during the Ottoman rule as way to reuse yogurt after it had been used to marinate lamb and left-over lamb pieces. Marinating lamb in yogurt is an old practice.

Tavë Kosi is also called Tavë Elbasani after the Albanian city of Elbasan where the first proper recipe came from. It is a staple in Albanian households. For Albanians living abroad, Tavë Kosi is comfort food.

Tavë kosi close up

Albanian Tave Kosi Recipe

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes


  • Lamb, diced - 600g
  • Butter - 20g
  • Olive Oil - 2 Tbsp
  • White Rice - 70g
  • Oregano - 2 tsp
  • Boiling Water - 450 ml
  • Diced Garlic, diced- 2 cloves
  • Salt and Pepper - to taste
  • Butter - 50g
  • Flour - 2 tbsp
  • Greek Yogurt - 750g
  • Eggs - 6


  1. In a large pan with a lid, melt the butter and olive oil together then add the diced lamb. Brown the lamb on a medium heat.  
  2. Add the garlic, oregano, 300ml of water and season with salt and pepper. Mix well before covering with the lid.
  3. Leave to simmer for 50 minutes mixing a couple of times to ensure the lamb doesn’t start to burn.
  4. After the 50 mins add another 150ml of water and the rice.
  5. Mix altogether, bring to the boil, place the lid on and cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Place the lamb and rice into a casserole dish. The mixture should fully cover the base and have at least 2 inches left on the top for the yogurt.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  8. Make a roux by melting the butter in a sacepan over medium heat.
  9. Add two tablespoons of flour while continuously stirring for two minutes prevent lumps (add a little extra flour if needed).
  10. The roux should not be thick but not too runny, the color will darken slightly. Pour the roux into a bowl and keep to one side.
  11. In a mixing bowl add the yogurt, eggs and season with salt, pepper and mix together.
  12. Add the roux continuing to mix quickly for a minute to ensure the roux and yogurt are thoroughly combined.
  13. Pour the yogurt mixture over the baked lamb and rice and sprinkle on a little oregano.
  14. Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 35 minutes then move it up to the middle for a further 10 minutes.
  15. The Tavë kosi is ready when the yogurt has risen up high and a golden crust forms. Leave to cool for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 446Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 326mgSodium: 369mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 30g

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