This sumptuous Indian dish was originally made to tenderise the tough hind legs of a goat, considered inferior to the tender front limbs. The flavours work brilliantly with lamb, however, and the recipe is easy – don’t be put off by the overnight marination. The leftovers are sensational the next day in sandwiches or salads.






Skill level

Average: 3.1 (163 votes)


  • 1 x 2.5 kg leg of lamb
  • ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 large pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp honey, warmed
  • 250 ml (1 cup) Greek style yogurt
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) ghee
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 8 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 35 g (¼ cup) slivered almonds


  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp each chilli powder and turmeric
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time 20 minutes

Marinating time 8 hours

You will need to begin this recipe a day ahead.

Trim all fat and silver skin from the lamb. Using a small sharp knife, make deep incisions all over the lamb. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a small food processor and process, scraping down the sides occasionally, until a coarse paste forms. Rub the paste all over the lamb, pushing it into the incisions as you go. Season the lamb with ground pepper. Place lamb in a non-reactive dish. In a bowl, stir together the saffron, ground almonds, honey and yoghurt and pour over the lamb. Turn the lamb to coat in the yoghurt mixture then cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Transfer the lamb to a roasting dish large enough to fit it snugly and spoon the yoghurt mixture over it. Heat the ghee in a small frying pan over medium, add the whole spices and cook, tossing the pan, for 2 minutes or until spices are fragrant. Pour the mixture over the lamb, scatter over the slivered almonds, then cover the dish loosely with foil. Roast lamb for 2-2½ hours, or until juices are still running a little pink, and adding a few tablespoons of water to the dish occasionally to stop the yoghurt mixture catching around the edges. Remove the lamb from the oven and rest for 20 minutes then serve, carved in thick slices. 

Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O’Brien. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.