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Leg of lamb in yoghurt and roasted poppy seeds

  • 6-8
Leg of lamb in yoghurt and roasted poppy seeds

This is one of my favourite recipes in Madhur Jaffrey's book Illustrated Indian Cookery although I have made one or two changes to suit our Western tastes. Served with naan bread it's delicious.


  • 2.5 kilogram leg of lamb
  • 2 1/2 medium-sized onions, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cups plain non-fat yoghurt
  • 1 bulb garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 10cm long piece of ginger, peeled
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 140 grams blanched almonds
  • 12 dried figs
  • 6 tablespoons poppy seeds


  1. Cut away all the fat and skin from the leg of lamb so you have only meat. Take a thin, sharp knife and jab the lamb all over with deep cuts.
  2. Put quarter of the onion slices into a food processor with half a cup of yoghurt, the garlic and ginger and process until smooth. Pour in the remaining yoghurt, one cup of the stock, the salt and the spices. Pulse to mix.
  3. Place the leg of lamb in a very large bowl or baking dish, pour in the yoghurt mixture over the top and rub it into the lamb well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours (and preferably 48 hours).
  4. Place the lamb in a large heat-proof baking dish and pour the marinade over the top again. Place over a warm element and bring to the boil. Transfer to an oven preheated to 180 degress Celsius and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
  5. While the lamb is cooking, lightly roast the almonds in the oven for about 10-12 minutes. Cool and then grind in a food processor or well-cleaned coffee grinder until they are well ground.
  6. After the cooking time of 1 1/2 hours, stir in the ground almonds and the figs and continue to bake for a further hour.
  7. While the meat is in the oven, cook the remaining onions and the poppy seeds. Heat the oil in a frying pan to a depth of about 5mm. Add the onions and cook until they begin to brown at the edges. Add the poppy seeds and continue cooking over a moderate heat, stirring, until the onions become brown and crisp. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked onions and poppy seeds to absorbent paper before setting aside.
  8. While the lamb is tender, sir in the remaining stock and crumble the onions and poppy seeds into the juice. Spoon some of the sauce over the lamb and cook for a further 10 minutes. To serve, place the leg of lamb on a large platter. Skim off any fat from the top of the sauce and then spoon the sauce and figs over the lamb. If you would like a thinner sauce, stir in a little more chicken stick before serving.

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