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I’ve been making variations of these two recipes for years but have never written up a proper recipe. Until now! We’ve enjoyed them three times over the past few weeks, whilst I’ve tweaked and tested, and may I boastfully say GOD they’re SO good. Both my boys love them, as do the husband and I. I’d classify them as the perfect planned-over pair – an easy weekend dinner of spiced leg of lamb on a bed of roasted vegetables; followed up to 3 nights later by a super-fast Indian-style rice biryani.
The lamb is coated in a zingy home-made spice paste which chars the top of the lamb beautifully, and trickles down into the roasted veggies. Half the spice paste is reserved as a flavour base for the biryani, along with a portion of the roast lamb and vegetables. Throw everything into a deep frying pan with stock, basmati rice and a handful of baby spinach and your weeknight dinner is sorted.
A traditional biryani takes hours to prepare, but by using good old planned-overs you can have it on the table in 20 minutes!

Spiced roast lamb[Recipe 1] Spiced roast leg of lamb with cauliflower and lentils

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
2¼ kilo (4½ lb) leg of lamb, bone in
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
2 x 400g (15 oz) cans lentils, drained, rinsed (or 2 cups cooked lentils – see notes below recipe)
4 large carrots (approx. 650g/1½ lb), cut into thick 1cm (½”) slices
Coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve
Spice paste (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon garam masala
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2½cm (1”) piece ginger, finely chopped (about 1½ tablespoons)
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Prepare the spice paste by processing the dry spices, garlic, ginger, salt, oil and lemon juice with a stick blender or food processor, until combined. Add the lemon zest and mix well.
♦ Reserve half the spice paste (¼ cup/60g) for the lamb biryani.
Make shallow incisions in the lamb and brush thickly all over with the remaining spice paste. Cover loosely and allow lamb to sit at room temperature for an hour, before roasting. (Note: lamb can also be coated in the spice mix, covered, and stored in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Bring it to room temperature for an hour before roasting).
Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Place the spiced lamb into a lightly-oiled shallow baking dish. Add one cup of water. Roast for 1 hour.
Turn heat down to 180°C (350ºF). Add carrot slices to the pan and lightly toss to coat in the pan juices. Baste lamb. Roast lamb and carrots for a further 30 minutes.
Add cauliflower pieces to the pan and lightly toss to coat in the pan juices. Roast lamb, carrots and cauliflower pieces for a further 30 minutes.
Remove the lamb from the pan, cover lightly with foil, and rest for 20 minutes.
Total cooking time for 2¼ kilo (4½ lb) leg of lamb = 2 hours + 20 minutes resting time.
Meanwhile, add lentils to the pan and toss with the carrot and cauliflower pieces. Pop veggies back in the oven for a further 10 minutes, while the lamb is resting.
Slice meat from the bone.
♦ Reserve 1½–2 cups sliced roast lamb for the lamb biryani.
♦ Reserve 1½–2 cups cooked carrot, cauliflower and lentils for the lamb biryani.
Serve remaining sliced lamb with the remaining roasted carrots, cauliflower and lentils. Scatter with coriander.

  • Planned-overs (reserved cooked lamb, cauliflower, carrots and lentils) can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • Spice paste will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Don’t worry too much about reserving the exact specified amount of lamb and vegetables for the biryani. The biryani is a pretty forgiving recipe and will easily cope with more or less meat or veggies. Unused leftover lamb and roasted vegetables are delicious in a sandwich or wrap with tahini sauce and baby spinach leaves.
  • 2 x 400g (14 oz) cans lentils, drained, will yield 2 heaped cups lentils. For 2 heaped cups cooked lentils, cook 1 cup dry lentils in boiling water for 45 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse. I often cook up a load of lentils, and freeze them in 1 cup portions to use when required.
  • If you fancy baked potatoes with your roast, place two or three large quartered, peeled potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, and simmer uncovered for 10–15 minutes, until almost tender. Drain and return potatoes to the dry pan. Place the lid on, and shake the pan over a medium heat to roughen and dry them. Add a splash of vegetable oil and toss to coat. Place prepared potato wedges into the pan at the same time as the carrots – they should be laid on top of the carrots so they crisp nicely. They can be cooked in a separate pan or on a small baking-paper lined tray, if your roasting pan is too full. 

Lamb biryani

[Recipe 2] Quick lamb and vegetable biryani

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small brown or red (purple/Spanish) onion, chopped
¼ cup/60g reserved spice paste
♦ 1½–2 cups reserved sliced roast lamb, chopped
♦ 1½–2 cups reserved roast cauliflower, carrot and lentils, (carrot chopped into small pieces)
1¼ cups (275g) uncooked basmati rice, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken stock, store-bought or home-made
75g (3 oz) baby spinach leaves, chopped
Cracked black pepper
65g (2¼ oz) slivered almonds, toasted
Greek yogurt, to serve

Heat oil in a heavy-based, deep-sided frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion for 5 minutes, until soft.
♦ Add reserved spice paste. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, until aromatic.
♦ Add reserved lamb and vegetables and mix well. Add rice and stock, stir well to combine, and bring to the boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add baby spinach and cook, uncovered, for a further 2–3 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid absorbed. Stir occasionally. Season with pepper.
Divide biryani amongst four bowls. Scatter with toasted slivered almonds and a large plop of Greek yogurt.

39 thoughts on “Lambtastic

  1. Hi Sass, can you eat the biryani cold? I’m always struggling with gluten free lunchbox ideas and this sounds like it might be possible…but being a total food ignoramus and completely ham fisted in the kitchen I can’t work out whether this would be good cold? !

    • Hi Kathy! To be honest I reckon the biryani should be served warm, and is best eaten on the night it’s made. You could give it a light nuke in the morning though, and pop it in a warmed thermos for lunch; or even better, nuke it when required (if you have access to a microwave at lunchtime). For an adult-friendly gluten-free rice-based lunch, suitable to eat cold, I’d go for this brown rice salad. It’s a ripper! This Roast corn, quinoa and pea salad is great for lunch too (and my boys love the fritter version – they’re good cold too actually)! I feel peckish all of a sudden…

  2. Saskia, I’m back to let you know that I have now made the incredible spiced roast leg of lamb, and it really delivered! We actually cooked it in our barbecue (one of those egg-style ones that you can bake in, as they retain a steady heat for a very long time), and it was just gorgeous. Our neighbours raved about it! And an even better side note from my husband: what I failed to say when I first commented here, is that my husband is actually leery of lamb that isn’t treated in a very traditional way, but I knew that your flavours would be a big hit with him. He says he stands corrected on the topic of seasoning lamb (and asks when I’ll make this again)!

  3. The lamb and veggies was yum as predicted- I was not sure about a cup of water added to the roast as I have never done that but I followed the receipe and voila! Roast lamb!
    We had the number 2 meal tonight and my husband made it as i came down like a freight train with a sore throat. Well he was quite pleased as there was little to be done but whip together the most fantastic and easy meal. It actually was really fabulous and a lovely texture even for a poor sore throat (haven’t seemed to lost my appetite!). There is some left over in the fridge but i doubt it will make the next 12 hours intact. THat is a definite meal to do again- we really loved it. 5 stars out of 5.

    • Fran thank you thank you! That is beautiful music to my ears. SO pleased you liked it and that your husband whipped up meal 2 without a glitch. The cup of water adds moisture to the oven, making for a juicier roast. It also prevents the drippings from burning onto the bottom of the pan before the vegies are added. The water completely evaporates by the time the lamb is roasted; allowing for the lamb to char nicely at the end, locking in all that lovely moisture! Thanks again for commenting.

    • Ha! Cheers Cass. You could definitely make a veggie version of the biryani. The spice paste would go beautifully with a medley of leftover roasted veggies in place of the lamb; like roast eggplant and cubed roast potatoes or sweet potatoes. Yum!

  4. ok back on track with cooking- the end of the school term is so fraught with so many things that one falls back to the basics which is really quite boring. I can hardly look another spag bog in the eye (where is the eye of spag bog?).
    So tonight it is yummy lamb!

    • Oh yay! Welcome back Fran. Looking forward to hearing about the lamb, and how it went down. Yes, we OD’d on spag bog too at the end of term. I think ‘the eye of the spag bog’ sounds so much better than ‘the eye of the storm’, and is the perfect end-of-term idiom. I may steal it.

  5. My husband won’t eat lamb but I adore it and I know I’d love both of these recipes. Your “planned overs” is really such a brilliant concept Saskia. My girls are soooo happy tonight and I have you to thank for it. I was inspired by your bento box post (and Sawsan’s) so I bought a couple of containers a few weeks ago. Tomorrow is the first day of summer camp and I’ve used the bento boxes with a few interesting tidbits. They were excited to see fruit and chocolate chips in one section, separated out with silicon cups (that was Sawsan’s idea). Thanks for the inspiration! I’m saving $540 for the month by making lunches….so the boxes were well worth the investment! (Sorry I’m late with my comment…I was out of town on business last week and I’m still catching up! Work isn’t cooperating with the blogging these days!)

    • Hi Barb. What is it about lamb and menfolk? That’s the second non-lamb-eating husband to be outed in these comments (Sawsan’s was the other)! Lamb is really popular here is Aus, I guess as it’s so readily available (and delicious, to my mind anyway). That’s great news about the bento boxes – they’re so super kid-friendly aren’t they! Kids just love their segmented treats. My eldest is off to school camp in a couple of weeks too (his first!), and is very excited. No need to apologise for commenting late – I love late comments (they’re a bit like late birthday presents), and yours are always worth the wait.

  6. This Amazing lamb dinner would be great at Easter too! I love your tasty spicy paste a lot! it has all the ingredients in there that I mostly love! MMMMM! You are also a keen & fab photogapher, Saskia! That 2nd recipe is so appetizing too! Yummmmmmmmmm,…

  7. My husband would probably never speak to me again if he knew that I read this post and then failed to try your recipes. They are a-maz-ing! He adores lamb, and it’s not widely available where we live (you have to know where to look). Gorgeous recipes, Saskia, and now you’ve done it again!

  8. Ah, I love your blog Saskia. Such great posts. I’ve never made a lamb biryani, but I’ve eaten many (I have Burmese friends who make it all the time) and it’s so delicious!! I’m actually planning to buy a leg of lamb this weekend, so I might just take on your suggestion for meal two (that is, if the boys don’t eat it all. I’m hardly ever left with ‘leftovers’. Very sad).

    • Thanks Laura. Big ditto from me – love your blog too! Yes, boys certainly know how to eat. Frightened mine will eat us out of house and home when they’re older! Enjoy your lamb leg. Excellent weather for it.

  9. These are both delicious looking meals!! Have never had a biryani before so I’m going to bookmark these and give them a try. My cooking has been somewhat lazy this year compared to last year…half-way through the year, there’s still time to change that!

  10. That leg o’ lamb looks so very good, Saskia! It’s roasted to perfection and probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. Using some of that meat wit some of the roasted vegetables must bring some delicious flavors to your biryani. I seriously hope I can find a small leg so that I can attempt both recipes. Until then, I’ll pin the recipes and dream. 🙂

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