When I was asked for my alternative ideas and twists for a Christmas day dinner I knew just the recipe…
My mum Mamta’s Tandoori Leg of Lamb. It can be served with all the normal roast dinner trimmings, as we do in our house, or as the central dish to an Indian feast.
It’s ideal for an Easter menu too.
Mamta’s Tandoori Leg of Lamb
Leg of lamb, approximately 2 kg
2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and 2 halved
1.5 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons besan (gram) flour (leave out if not available)
1 tablespoon coriander powder
A few strands of saffron, soaked in a tablespoon of warm water
3-4 bay leaves
1 inch stick of cinnamon
6-7 black pepper corns
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1-2 teaspoons chilli powder
2 tablespoons good quality oil
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
1 small carton of creamy, natural yoghurt
Salt to taste
Note: You can replace the bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamoms, black pepper corns and cloves with 1 tablespoon of good quality garam masala. Home made is best, as cheap ready made ones are bulked out with other, cheaper spices.
Make slits in the leg of lamb, insert a few halved cloves of garlic into a few of the slits, and set lamb aside.
Optional: Grind the whole spices (see Hints & Tips).
Place all ingredients except yoghurt into a blender and blitz until smooth.
Transfer paste to a bowl, add yoghurt and mix well.
Taste and adjust spices. Remember that the spice paste has to give enough flavour to 2 kg of meat, so it has to taste a little over-salted and over-spiced at this stage.
Spread the spice paste over the lamb, ensuring that some is worked into the slits.
Leave to marinade at least overnight. For best results, 24 to 36 hours.
Place on a baking tray and cover with aluminium foil.
Cook at 375 F, 190C for 1 1/2 hours for pink meat (or 2 hours for well-done meat).
Baste from time to time and leave uncovered for last half hour, so that the spices and meat turn brown.
Hints & Tips
- Make sure you use full fat yoghurt for this recipe as low fat yoghurt often splits when heat is applied. Thick Greek-style yoghurt works well.
- If using frozen lamb, defrost thoroughly and drain resulting liquids before applying marinade.
- Instead of buying tiny jars of spices from the supermarket, it’s more economical to buy in slightly larger quantities from Asian grocery shops. However, spices fade over time, so if you don’t use them up quickly, they’ll lose their intensity of flavour. I’d recommend storing a small amount of each one in easy-to-access spice jars, keeping the rest in your freezer and replenishing as and when you need to.
- Fresh ingredients such as ginger, coriander and other key ingredients for Indian cooking are also often cheaper in Asian and other ethnic grocery shops. If you don’t have an Indian or Pakistani shop near you, look in stores specialising in Chinese or Caribbean food, as there are many cross-over ingredients.
- If your food processor or blender is not very powerful, grind the whole spices in a spice or coffee grinder first, before combining them with the other ingredients. If you have a powerful food processor or blender, add the whole spices with the other ingredients and grind in one step.
- You can use this marinade recipe on any meat or fish from larger joints or whole chickens, to smaller cuts such as lamb shanks or individual portions of chicken. It also works well on whole fish, though will need far less marinating time.
- We love this tandoori roast lamb with traditional British trimmings – roast potatoes and parsnips, carrot and swede mash, savoy cabbage and gravy. We serve it with either a mint raita or mint jelly. For Christmas, we add chipolatas and stuffing and brussel sprouts for my sister who adores them…
- Of course, the lamb leg also works as the centrepiece for an extravagant Indian feast. I recommend my favourites such as chicken curry, stuffed aubergines, an additional vegetable dish such as cauliflower and potatoes, a daal or red kidney bean curry, some chapatis and rice on the side. To start, maybe pakoras or samosas and afterwards, a vermicelli kheer, similar to rice pudding but made with vermicelli pasta. Recipes for these dishes can be found on my mum’s site, Mamta’s Kitchen.
- Use leftovers just as you would with those from a plain lamb roast – make shepherd’s pie, lamb hot pot, a simple lamb curry, lamb and potato cakes or enjoy it sliced cold in sandwiches or wraps, with some of the minted cucumber and onion raita.
We filmed the introductory segment right at the end and it was after 11 pm by then, so do excuse the excess bounciness!