Slow roast leg of lamb with peppercorn and nutmeg and pilau rice

Preparation time
30 mins to 1 hour

Cooking time
over 2 hours

Serves 6

By Vivek SIngh


For the marinade

  • 4 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 200ml/7oz dark malt vinegar
  • 100g/3½oz crisp fried onions
  • 1 tsp caster sugar

For the leg of lamb

  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 green or black cardamom pods
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1.8kg/4lb leg of lamb (or thereabouts)
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted

For the sauce

  • 200ml/7oz tomato purée
  • 1½ tbsp black peppercorns, roasted on a dry frying pan for about 30 seconds and coarsely crushed
  • ¼ nutmeg grated
  • 4 tbsp single cream
  • sugar, to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp rum (optional)
  • salt

For the pilau rice

  • 250g/9oz basmati rice, washed in running water and soaked for 25 minutes
  • 50g/1¾oz ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp crisp fried onions
  • 2 tsp finely chopped mint leaves
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

To serve

  • 1 handful pomegranate seeds (optional)


  1. Mix together the marinade ingredients and rub all over the lamb, massaging the spices into the meat. Set aside for at least 30 minutes, or preferably a few hours in the fridge.

  2. Preheat the oven to 150C/140C Fan/Gas 2

  3. To cook the lamb, scatter the whole spices in a deep baking tray large enough to accommodate the leg, then place the marinated lamb on top. Pour enough water to come three-quarters of the way up the lamb. Cover with kitchen foil and cook covered for 2½–3 hours, or until the meat is very tender and comes away from the bone easily. Remove from the oven and leave the leg to cool, drain and reserve the cooking liquor.

  4. Once cool, make deep incisions in the leg using a sharp knife and remove the meat from the bone. Cut the meat into 1cm/½in thick slices and arrange on a serving platter. Brush with the melted butter and reheat in a low oven until ready to serve.

  5. For the sauce, transfer the strained cooking juices into a pan, add the tomato purée and bring to a simmer. Cook until the volume of liquid has reduced and you have a sauce consistency. Add the crushed peppercorns, nutmeg and cream. Check the seasoning and add a little salt and/or sugar to taste. Whisk in the butter, remove from the heat and pour the sauce over the warm lamb. Sprinkle with the spring onions.

  6. If using rum, pour it into a flameproof ladle and heat it until it catches fire, then pour the flaming rum over the lamb and bring to the table as a showstopper. (CAUTION: Take care when flambéing and keep your face well away from the flames. If you’re not an experienced cook you must be aware that this method of cooking can create large flames).

  7. Drain the rice and transfer to a shallow microwave dish. Add 375 ml/13fl oz water and a pinch of salt.

  8. Heat the ghee in a frying pan and add the whole spices. When the seeds begin to crackle, add the onions and fry for 1 minute. Tip into the rice.

  9. Add the mint, coriander to the rice mixture, cover with cling film and cook in a microwave for 14–15 minutes. Most of the water is absorbed at this stage and you can see small holes on the surface of the rice in the casserole. Stir to mix the rice through, cover with cling film and place in microwave oven for another 5 minutes.

  10. Remove from the microwave and allow to cool slightly. Scatter the pomegranate seeds, if using, and serve.