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Lamb with Yoghurt and Indian Spices

This recipe is based upon an Indian festival dish called 'Raan', in which the lamb is marinated in a rich mixture of yoghurt and spices and then cooked gently in the oven. Spices like cumin, ginger, chillies and colourful turmeric make this a spectacular and delicious dish.
After the lamb has been left marinating in the yoghurt for two days it is so tender that it almost falls off the bone, and can be served with a spoon rather than a carving knife. Although you must plan ahead to make this recipe, it is actually very simple to prepare and it always looks impressive. For an Indian-style buffet - serve with curried vegetables, rice, hot pepper relishes and chutneys.
Preparation time : 15-20 minutes,
Marinating Time : 2 days,
Cooking time : 2 1/2 hours,
Oven : Preheat to 220°C (425°F, gas mark 7),
reduce to 160°C (325°F, gas mark 3),
Calories per serving: 585

ingredients

4 lb (1.8 kg) leg of lamb
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
Seeds of 6 cardamom pods
2 in (50 mm) piece fresh root ginger
4 cloves garlic
4 cloves
2 dried red chillies
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 pint (450ml) natural low-fat yoghurt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Toasted almonds to garnish
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
Fresh coriander sprigs for garnish

method

1. Trim the fat from the lamb. Score the meat deeply in a crisscross pattern with a knife. Dry-fry the cumin, coriander and cardamom in a pan for 2 - 3 minutes until their aroma is released. Set aside.

2. Grind the peeled ginger and garlic to a paste in a mortar and pestle with the dry-fried seeds, the cloves and chopped chillies. Transfer to a bowl, add the turmeric, salt, yoghurt and lemon juice, and mix well.

3. Spread the yoghurt mixture over the lamb and right into the scored meat. Cover loosely with foil. Marinate in the refrigerator for two days.

4. When ready to cook, preheat the oven and leave the lamb at room temperature for 1 hour. Taking care not to burn them, toast the almonds on a flat roasting tin in the oven for 8 minutes and set aside.

5. Place the lamb on a rack in a roasting tin and sprinkle with the sugar. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature and remove the lamb, baste well, then cover with foil and return to the oven. Basting frequently, continue roasting for 2 - 2 1/4 hours, until the meat is very tender.

6. Let the lamb stand, still covered, for 20 minutes. Garnish with the toasted almonds and coriander.

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