Souk Spiced Leg of Lamb with Pomegranate & Herb Salsa
Easter is fast approaching and as one of our longest public-holidays, I always feel it is one of the best opportunities to get together with friends and family and feast with some wonderful food. Lamb has long been the favourite of Easter and of course, being Persian, it is very much the king of meats in my culture. So, what better way to treat everyone then with a stunning lamb leg, slow-cooked to tender perfection, perfumed with exotic, yet not-so-unfamiliar spices straight from your store cupboard? Just because a recipe is exotic, it doesn’t mean it needs to be unfamiliar or difficult to put together and spices will help you evoke the heady scents of Souks and Baazars but most importantly work beautifully with this wonderful lamb leg.
This delicious recipe uses yogurt to coat and tenderise the surface of the lamb leg as well as allow the spices to hold beautifully to the exterior of the joint. Commonly throughout the Middle East and Asia, yogurt is favoured as a marinade component to keep the meat lovely and moist throughout cooking, as well as tenderise the meat itself.
What I love about slow-cooking lamb is that the meat cooks through beautifully producing, tender, pull-apart meat that pleases everyone. No fuss of having to accommodate those who like, rare, pink or well-done meat… as long as it’s slow-cooked, you’ll have a real crowd-pleaser on your hands. To finish, a spicy, tangy yet refreshing pomegranate and herb salsa compliments the meat beautifully and you can either choose traditional accompaniments like potatoes and greens or be slightly more adventurous with couscous, bulgar wheat, flat bread wraps and yogurt instead. However you choose to serve it, you’ll impress everyone at the table and you won’t need to tell anyone how simple it was to put together.
For the lamb
2-2.5kg leg of lamb
175g Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons of ground fenugreek
2 tablespoons of sumac
2 tablespoons of garlic granules
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Generous amount of Maldon sea salt and black pepper
For the salsa
300g pomegranate seeds
Small packet of chives, snipped finely
Small packet of coriander, finely chopped
Small packet of dill, finely chopped
150ml pomegranate molasses
1 heaped teaspoon of rose harissa **optional**
2 heaped tablespoons of clear honey
2 long shallots, very finely chopped
2 teaspoons of nigella seeds
Good drizzle of olive oil
Generous seasoning of Maldon sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (or 140 fan-assisted) and line a large baking tray with oven/baking paper.
In a small bowl, mix the spices with the yogurt until evenly combined and coat the lamb leg evenly with the mixture and place onto your roasting tray and cook initially for 4 hours.
Remove from oven and using a spoon, pour some of the pan juices over the lamb to give it a nice sheen and moisten the crust. Then cover the lamb with foil and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Serving suggestion: Shred or pull the lamb apart and serve on a platter garnished with the salsa or serve the salsa on the side.
You can prepare the yogurt and spice mixture and marinate the lamb leg overnight for a deeper flavour, if you wish