1 2 2.5 kg/5 lb leg of lamb
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
250 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup natural yoghurt
2 tablespoons blanched almonds
1/2 teaspoon saffron strands
3 teaspoons honey
With a sharp knife remove skin and excess fat from lamb. Using point of knife make deep slits all over the lamb. Combine ginger, garlic, salt, ground spices and lemon juice. If mixture is too dry to spread, add very little oil. Rub spice mixture well over the lamb, pressing it into each slit.
Put yogurt and almonds into a blender container. Toast saffron strands in a dry pan over low heat for 1 minute, taking care they don't scorch. Turn onto a saucer to cool and crisp, crush with back of spoon and dissolve in 2 tablespoons hot water. Add to almonds and yoghurt, then blend together until smooth. Spoon the puree over the lamb, drizzle honey over, cover and allow lamb to marinate for 2 days in the refrigerator, or at least overnight.
Allow 1 hour per kilogram (1/2 hour per pound) cooking time. Preheat oven to 230 degrees C (450 degrees F), and roast lamb in a covered baking dish for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to moderate, 170 degrees C (350 degrees F) and cook for a further 11/2 hours or until lamb is cooked through. Uncover lamb and cool to room temperature. Serve with steamed basmati rice or a light pilau.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)