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Slow-cooked north Indian leg of lamb

  • 50 minutes (over 2 days), marinating time: overnight (4 hours minimum)
  • in the slow cooker low 4-5 hours, high 2-3 hours, plus extra 30 minutes
  • 6
Slow-cooked north Indian leg of lamb

The cuisine map of India is like a well-stitched tapestry - with herbs and spices and flavourings blending from one region to another, sometimes around the edge, sometimes more deeply. It is one of the most amazing places to visit. I find India assaults all your senses and all at the same time. This dish is adaped from a recipe from one of my favourite food writers, Madhur Jaffrey.


  • 1.25-1.5 kilogram short-cut leg of lamb
  • 3 tablespoons chickpea flour, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, toasted
  • 8 whole green cardamom pods, toasted
  • 1 cinnamon stick, crushed
  • 4 dried red chillies
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground mace
  • 1 cup plain unsweetened Greek-style yoghurt
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1½ cups chicken stock or water
  • 2 onions, peeled and very finely sliced


  1. Trim the lamb of the knuckle if it is still attached. Cut deep gashes into the fleshiest part of the leg meat.
  2. Into a spice or coffee mill put the flour, cumin seeds, peppercorns, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, chillies, paparika, nutmeg and mace, and grind to make a fine powder. Mix the ground spices with the yoghurt and massage firmly into the lamb, pressing the mixture into the gashes to ensure the favour penetrates the meat.
  3. Place the lamb in a deep bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, preferably overnight or for at least 4 hours.
  4. When ready to cook, turn the slow cooker on to low to pre-warm while browning the lamb.
  5. Heat about three-quarters of the oil in a large heavy-based frying-pan and brown the leg of lamb in the hot oil. The yoghurt will stick to the pan, but scrape off this sediment and spread onto the lamb.
  6. Once the lamb is well browned, transfer to the pre-warmed slow cooker. Add the stock or water to the pan, stir to lift off any sediment and transfer to the slow cooker.
  7. Add the remaining oil to the pan and cook the onions over a moderately high heat until well browned. Add to the slow cooker and cover with the lid.
  8. Cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2-3 hours, or until the lamb is tender. Transfer the lamb from the slow cooker to a warmed serving platter and cover. Turn the slow cooker to high if it has been low and cook without the lid for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Use a shallow spoon to lift off any oil that floats to the top and pour the sauce over the lamb to serve. Garnish with fresh herbs or toasted almonds if wished.

Cooks Tips

- If cooking a whole leg of lamb at 2.25-2.5 kilograms, use 1½ times the marinade quanitity. - If you do not have chickpea flour, use rice flour or half the measure of wheat or standard flour. - In place of using the whole spices, use 1½ tablespoons curry powder plus the paprika.

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