When I had a friend come over who I knew liked lamb, I made this dish for him, served in large homemade pita breads with salad and tzatziki. He ate 3 pita breads (and when I say large, I mean large) and 2 extra helpings of meat, going through a very large portion of what I thought would be my leftovers-for-the-freezer. Since then, I have made it several times, and each time people go back for second or even third helpings. Originally there were no roast vegetables with the dish, but when I threw a Christmas dinner and I wanted extra vegetables, I tossed in some vegetables with the spices, which created a wonderfully aromatic side-dish. Somebody who claimed to hate vegetables, and carrots especially, had a second helping of these.
This large roast leg of lamb takes a while to make, but most of it is resting-time and baking-time. The leg rests overnight and bakes for a whopping 4.5 hours (a total of 5 hours incl. resting and cutting). The preparations aren’t that difficult though, and don’t be alarmed by the large list of ingredients, almost all are spices.
- 1 tbs cinnamon
- 1 tbs sumac
- 2 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 tsp coarse sea salt
- 1 tsp dry ginger
- 2 tsp paprika powder
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 5 cloves
- 2 tsp fenugreek
- 1 head of garlic
- 3cm fresh ginger
- 1 tbs lemon juice
- 3 tbs groundnut oil
- Bush of fresh coriander
- 2kg leg of lamb, on the bone
The roast vegetables:
- 3 large carrots
- 3 red onions
- 1 courgette
- 1 red bell pepper
Roast the spices (cinnamon up until the fenugreek) together until fragrant. Grind the spices finely in a large pestle and mortar. Add the peeled garlic and chopped ginger, and grind it all together into a thick paste. Add the lemon juice and oil and combine well. Chop the coriander finely and stir this in with the spice-mixture.
Cut a bunch of deep holes into the leg of lamb, then massage the spice-mixture into the flesh. If you have an injection needle, you can inject the spice mix well into the meat. You can benefit from chopping up the coriander electrically into a paste when using this method. My injection needle keeps clogging when I try this though, so I kind of gave up on it and massage the spice mix into the holes instead.
Leave the leg of lamb to marinade overnight, for all the flavours to really work their way into the meat.
Bake the leg of lamb for 30 minutes on 220°C, until the spices start to brown nicely. Loosely cover the baking tin with tin foil, but make sure you make a tent, as I have had the tin foil actually melting when it is in contact with the spice rub for so long.
Bake for another 4 hours on 180°C, while basting every 30 minutes.
Chop the carrots into large chunks. Peel the onions, keep the ends attached and cut them into 8-12 wedges each. 1 hour and 15 minutes before you take the lamb out of the oven, add the carrots and onions to the dish and roll them around in the spicy juices. Place the dish back into the oven.
Chop the courgette and bell pepper into large chunks. Add them to the dish 30 minutes before your lamb is done cooking.
After a total of 4.5hrs in the oven, take the leg of lamb out of the oven. Place the lamb on a cutting board (with ridges for any juices) and cover lightly with tin foil.
Stir the vegetables and place them back into the oven. Bake the vegetables for 30 minutes on 220°C or until roasted nicely.
Cut the lamb into slices after the meat has rested for 15 minutes. Take the vegetables out of the oven (after you are done cutting, the vegetables should be about done as well) and position the meat in between the roast vegetables.
Serve with tzatziki, good bread and a fresh salad. I can advise the orange and olive salad.