Spiced leg of lamb and the seven-year itch.

Spiced leg of lambSeven years ago, I made a wrong decision. I set my relationship with the Wife back. So often, one does these things and the marriage never recovers. I take responsibility for my actions back then. I feel it’s time to make it up now. She deserves having things put right. My children deserve my putting the record straight. I deserve a future with a clearer conscience.

Yes, seven years ago I committed that crime of crimes. I made a mess of cooking a particularly promising dish and they have never forgiven me. To make amends, I’m doing it again. I’m having another go at Spiced Leg of Lamb with Naan Bread and Spinach. The irony of it all is that the lamb featured in a book given to me 21 years ago (soon after our marriage) by my parents-in-law. I have kept the book and it features in the picture below.

Spiced leg of lamb

The recipe, like a good marriage has variety and some spice in the ingredients.

The ingredients list for the lamb is a long one

  • 3 lemons
  • A 3 kilo leg of lamb
  • 7 cm (3 inches) of ginger root
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 50 grammes of shelled pistachio nuts
  • 50 grammes of blanched almonds
  • 10 cloves
  • A 5 cm (2 inch) stick of cinnamon 
  • Seeds of 20 cardamom pods
  • 1 pint of natural yoghurt

The ingredients list for the naan bread is a short one

  • 2 eggs
  • 450 gms of strong white flour
  • 1 teaspoon of bread soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Half a pint of milk
  • One and a half tablespoons of honey
  • 4 cloves of good garlic
  • A handful of coriander 
  • Some clarified butter
  • Flour for dusting

Like with a marriage, it is best to not start into this without letting yourself know what you’re in for. This takes over 18 hours to prepare and cook this dish. So, you have been warned. First, trim off the fat and parchment from the lamb.

Spiced leg of lamb

The virgin lamb getting ready to be wedded to some powerful flavours.

Next slash the lamb deep into the meat.

Spiced leg of lamb

Just like the wounds of a bad marriage, the cuts are deep (Or so I hear).

Squeeze the juice of two of the lemons onto the meat, rubbing it into the cuts. (The recipe specifies three lemons saying to use two at this stage. Nowhere else does it mention the third lemon. Very strange.)

Spiced leg of lamb

Rub it in, why don’t you.

Next add the salt. Rub it into the wounds. (No marriage joke intended).

Spiced leg of lamb

The first of the spices get rubbed in next.

When the salt has been rubbed in, rub in the garlic, ginger and ground black pepper. Put the lid on and leave it to marinate for eight hours.

Spices in a mortar

Getting ready for a pounding.

The next day (it will be the next day), pound the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom seeds into a coarse powder.

Spices in a mortar

Half way there. A good mortar and pestel make light work of this.

In a food processor, blend together the lamb ingredients that have not been mentioned yet. That includes the pistachios.

Pistachio nuts

My favourite photo from this recipe. The pistachio nuts.

Pour this mixture over the lamb.

Spiced leg of lamb

I was pretty pleased with this shot. Particularly as I was doing the pouring as well.

There is plenty of it. Don’t fret, it’s worth it.

Spiced leg of lamb

The lamb is nearly covered. Time for another long break.

Put the lid back on and leave it to rest for another 8 hours. While the lamb rests, you don’t get more than 5 hours off. You need to get the naan breads ready. Beat the eggs in a mixer.


I like to let the mixer do the work here.

Put the honey and milk into a saucepan and warm it until blended.

Naan bread

That’s a big tablespoon of honey. It adds greatly to the flavour.

Sieve and pour in the dry ingredients a little at a time into the eggs. Slowly add the liquid to the flour and eggs.


The mixer takes the work out of kneading.

After it is mixed, change to the dough hook and give it ten minutes kneading. Take it out and put it on a floured surface.

Mine was a little too loose for easy separation, but, I will spare you the gory details.

Mine was a little too loose for easy separation, but, I will spare you the gory details.

While that is happening, melt some clarified butter (or ordinary butter). Separate the dough into six parts and flatten the naan out. Paint them with a bit of the butter.

The clarified butter has a fantastic colour when melted. Just thought you would like to see...

The clarified butter has a fantastic colour when melted. Just thought you would like to see…

Chop the garlic and coriander into suitable pieces and press into the top of the naan.

Looking very tasty now.

Looking very tasty now.

These go into the oven while the lamb is resting. They take about 15 minutes to cook. They are done when they look done. Nothing more complicated than that.

The lamb goes into a 230° C oven for 10 minutes with the lid on. Then turn it down to 180° C for an additional two hours (I think it could do with only one and a half hours btw). Baste the meat every 15 minutes or so. Then give it 10 minutes with the lid off. Take it out and let it rest for an hour.

Spiced leg of lamb

If you could smell the aromas from this, you probably would drink the cooking liquid straight away.

While it was cooling, I took one fancified shot with some lamb’s lettuce.

Spiced leg of lamb

The lambs lettuce went back into the fridge. Like a hired wedding dress, it had served its purpose.

When it is near time to serve, throw spinach into your wok with some olive oil and add the puy lentils. Cook until they are wedded in flavour.

Spiced leg of lamb

What do you think? A little overdone? I reckon it was but, boy, it was tasty.

All that is left to do is to show you another shot of the finished dish.

Spiced leg of lamb

The lamb, naan, spinach and beer – a match made in heaven.

The seven-year itch has been well and truly scratched and the marriage survives. I suppose, as long as I turn out dishes like this, she will forgive me most other things.

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Latest comments
  • What a flavorful sounding meal…long live the marriage!

    • Thanks Karen,
      It’s lasted this long, I reckon it will hold together for a while longer.

      • I have not doubt about it. 🙂

  • That lamb is indeed a commitment and takes longer to make than many relationships last these days. But I can see that it is well worth the investment of time and devotion. Your family is indeed blessed.

    • Thanks Stacy, I’m sick telling them that myself.

  • That looks delicious, definitely the kind of meal I would love someone to dish up for me!

    • I’ll let you know the next time I’m doing it. It takes so long, you will have plenty of notice.

  • Perhaps a little ;). Seriously looks delicious – I’m a sucker for lamb… yes please.

    • Thanks Nick, It was particularly tasty. We demolished the entire leg at one sitting.

  • Nice meal. Good job with the naan.

    • Thanks Rosemary, That was my first attempt at it. It is easy and delicious.

  • Lamb, bread and beer – not a bad combo at all. I’m loving the accompaniments as much as anything. The green of the spinach & lentil dish against the orange/gold of that crust. And those naan look great too. You’ve done the Irish flag again, almost.
    And your photos always please. Good work Conor.
    P.S. I reckon by now Mrs B will have forgiven you for your earlier aberration. I still do err occasionally (on a catering front you understand) and the boss still encourages and coaxes me along in that way the fairer sex have – god bless ’em.

    • Thanks Adam. I reckon we understand each other a bit more now…

  • Not at all overdone for a traditional Indian feast … although I *do* like mine pretty rare as well

    • Thanks. I think it could have come out of the oven about half an hour earlier and been the better for it. I suppose it depends on the lamb.

  • That looks delicious – I’m sure you’ve been redeemed 🙂

    • Thanks MD, ‘Redeemed’ is a temporary position around here. Must keep at it.

  • After all the efforts put in, that deliciously looking outcome must get any wife/woman to surrender. 🙂

    • Thanks Meggie, Surrender implies a battle of some sort. I am not brave enough for that.

  • Don’t think the wife is complaining when you keep turning out dishes like this one 🙂 Looks great and very interesting flavors! You really ought to use a meat thermometer 😉

    • You are right (again) on the meat thermometer Stefan. However, I suspect that in this case it might not have done the job given the eight hours in the lemon juice mixture. Perhaps some experimentation might be worthwhile. Though with 16 hours marinading, it would be a long term experiment.

  • oh, wow, that’s a lot of time to wait to enjoy this meal, but it looks great! while, I know that the lamb is the star of the dish, I am actually salivating at the naan on the plate 🙂

    • Thank, I was very happy with them. They were my first attempt and they worked well. You could bring such bread on some of those runs I see you getting up to in a cold Chicago. Very brave at this time of year.

  • Perfect match-up for Indian Spices, I’ll bet this is seriously good on the BBQ. Not sure we’ll get to test that theory at the moment, but its a thought. I agree about the pistachio shot by the way 😉

    • Great shout, Phil. That on the BBQ would work beautifully. Hmmm

    • Thanks Phil, It could be excellent on the BBQ indeed. A bit too cool around here to try it just yet.

  • I’ll remember this one if my wife gets the 7 year itch. Which wont help because she’s vegetarian. Not that it ever will happen, obviously.

  • Good thing I have Indian on my menu tonight or I would be running out to the butcher right now! As always, looks awesome!

    • Thanks Steph, I hope it was as tasty as this. I intend adding more Indian to the mix as we go along.

  • Hey Connor- it looks amazing! A technical question….given that it’s an Indian recipe, and the spices will probably preserve it, do you leave the lamb out whilst it does it’s marinading thing or would you refrigerate it? (Thinking you must have a big fridge for that nice Le Creuset number)

    • Hi Christina,
      I left it out. Mind you, it has been so cold here for the past while, nothing would go off.

      • I figured! Getting cool here in NZ now so I’ll take the risk too 🙂

  • Conor this leg of lamb is just gorgeous! I am so glad you had to make the record straight so you could share with us your fantastic step by step photos. I really love that photo of the mortar and pestle. The first slice of your lamb looks like a 4 finger hand and you can see all the delicious herbs and tender meat. To many more years of marital bliss.

  • Appetizing recipe which will be copied pronto this side of the Ponds. Indian lamb can’t really be cooked medium rare, but it would have been wonderfully soft at this stage! The actual work time was not so long methinks, it’s all in the marinating. Must try your naans too – have been ‘lazy’ since have a wonderful indian bread maker up the road! Anyways, loved the post!

    • Thanks Eha, I was pleased with my naans. Then, my choices are very restricted to either the take-away or the supermarket.

  • Your photos are stunning! You are the king of ‘pouring’ shots…how do you do it? Loved the first shot – beautifully laid out and looks so appetizing. Beautiful use of lamb and those naans are fabulous. The naan I used for my post (not published yet) looks so poor compared to these beautiful babies. But, I have never made naan with eggs in the dough before.

    • Thanks for that. High praise indeed. I am working on the assumption that you are understating as usual and I am looking forward to your post.

  • From opening shot to the last, this is a spectacular roast and post, Conor. I forgive you. You’ve not wronged me in any way but, should you ever, know that you’re forgiven.

    • Thanks John, good to have something on that side of the balance sheet.

  • I don’t know the Wife, but I’d say that looks like some tasty redemption. Well done.

  • Oh, that looks incredibly delicious! And those naans…

    • The naans were so easy to do and the appear to be stealing the show!

  • Huge effort but it looks wonderful. The naan is gorgeous. My husband makes it frequently and I love it. I tried it once and I don’t know what I did but it was all wonky so I had to throw it out. Never did get to the oven. I’ll be trying again.

  • My jaw dropped! You cook!!!!!!

  • It happens to the best of us. Glad it worked out this time, looks great!

  • Just starting to catch up on posts! Lovely looking lamb and naan! Anything with pistachios…have to love it!

    • Thanks Barb. Good to see you back and sorry for your loss.
      Best as ever,

  • You’re terrible! I read the abstract on your home page and actually got this feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach… but hey, very clever intro. And an AMAZING recipe. My husband can cook steaks but that’s about it… I might have to show him your recipe and gently suggest that if he does anything remotely wrong over the next couple of years, he’ll need to make this as an apology! Haha. You are the meat king!

    • Thanks Laura. Lovely to see the post being put to good use!

  • Great looking and sounding lamb. Love the flavor profile on this one. So glad you had the opportunity to put the record straight and clear your conscience.

    • Life is easier if we have a clean conscience and a clean plate after each meal!

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