The weather around here has been playing tricks on us lately. One day it has us lounging in the backyard and the next fishing our jackets out of storage.
In the food world this means we’re switching back and forth between slow roasts and outdoor grilling. This isn’t a problem for me since I always need an excuse for slow roasting a hunk of meat. And with spring here roasting some lamb just made sense.
This recipe for saffron scented roast lamb is a family favourite my mom usually makes on special holidays. But I don’t work by those rules. I’ll usually make it mid-week for the abundant leftovers it produces with little hands-on time. My version of this recipe doesn’t contain ground cashews as it traditionally calls for or require overnight marination, and instead roasts for a long 4 hour period.
My mom generally serves this lamb roast alongside basmati rice made with a rich broth and topped with fried almonds and raisins (yum) but I just went with a simple cauliflower rice and a cucumber salad.
Zafraani Raan (Safrron Scented Roast Lamb)
- 5-8 pound lamb leg, excess fat removed
- ⅓ cup ghee
- ½ cup cilantro,packed
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves, packed
- ⅓ cup thick yogurt OR coconut cream (cream that forms on top of the can)
- 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
- 2 tablespoons garam masala
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1-inch ginger, roughly minced
- 1-3 Thai green chilies, deseeded (optional)
- Juice of one lemon
- ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a medium pan, fry the onions in ghee on medium-low heat for 20 to 25 minutes until they are lightly browned.
Remove the onions from the pan, pressing out half the amount of ghee.
Add these ingredients to a blender: onions, yogurt, cilantro, mint, garam masala, salt, garlic, ginger chilies and lemon juice with the saffron threads by first crushing them against your palm.
Blend it until it forms a smooth paste.
Place your lamb leg in a dutch oven or deep baking dish and make deep pricks all over it.
Pour all the marinade onto the lamb, rubbing it all over and into the cuts.
Add enough water into the dish so it is covered by at least one third. Cover the dutch oven or tightly seal the dish with foil and place it in the preheated oven for 30 minutes after which you’ll turn the heat down to 350°F and set the timer for 1 hour and 30 minutes (the halfway point).
When the timer goes off, remove the dish from the oven and flip the leg over. Cover the lamb again and return it to the oven for 2 hours.
After the 2 hours are over, remove the foil and roast for an additional 10 minutes, basting it with the sauce and drippings if necessary.
At this point you can serve this one of two ways. You can plate the roast and serve the sauce on the side or you can remove the bone, “pull” the lamb with a fork or tongs which will soak up all the delicious sauce. Really, it’s an obvious choice.