Seven 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.
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.
Next slash the lamb deep into the meat.
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.)
Next add the salt. Rub it into the wounds. (No marriage joke intended).
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.
The next day (it will be the next day), pound the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom seeds into a coarse powder.
In a food processor, blend together the lamb ingredients that have not been mentioned yet. That includes the pistachios.
Pour this mixture over the lamb.
There is plenty of it. Don’t fret, it’s worth it.
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.
Put the honey and milk into a saucepan and warm it until blended.
Sieve and pour in the dry ingredients a little at a time into the eggs. Slowly add the liquid to the flour and eggs.
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.
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.
Chop the garlic and coriander into suitable pieces and press into the top of the naan.
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.
While it was cooling, I took one fancified shot with some lamb’s lettuce.
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.
All that is left to do is to show you another shot of the finished dish.
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.