Christmas roast lamb

Christmas Roast Lamb

Christmas roast lamb


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp sweet paprika
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp crushed cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1½-2kg lamb leg
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup rosemary sprigs (about 6-7 sprigs)
  • Rice base
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • 200g lamb mince
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground allspice

We’d always par-cook the lamb the day before and let it cook slowly until lunch on Christmas Day. We still do it no matter what the weather is like and never cook fewer than two legs of lamb. The lamb is very fragrant – cooked with allspice and garlic cloves and rosemary. Traditionally, this dish is served with hummus, babaghanoush, tabouli, fattoush and seasonal roast vegetables on the lunch table. .


Pre-heat oven to 200C. To prepare the lamb, mix together the olive oil, all the dried spices and salt in a bowl until well combined. Place lamb leg on a clean surface and rub liberally and evenly with spice mix. Make about 10 fingertip holes in the surface of the lamb. Push the cloves of garlic and rosemary into these holes. Place the leg in a deep baking dish. Cook uncovered in the oven for about 30 minutes on each side until browned. Once browned, remove from the oven and place the lamb on a sheet of foil, large enough to be wrapped around the leg. After wrapping the lamb, place back in the oven, reducing the heat to 160C. The lamb should be unwrapped and basted every 20-30 minutes with the spice and lamb oils that are sitting in the pan. Traditionally, the lamb is cooked until browned throughout and very tender; this will take approximately 3½ hours. However, if it is preferred medium to rare on the inside, 1½ hours’ cooking time will suffice. While the lamb is cooking, prepare the rice base. In a pan, heat the olive oil and saute the pine nuts and almonds over medium heat for about three minutes, or until golden brown, stirring constantly to avoid them burning. Once the nuts are removed from the heat, set aside but do not discard the oil. Place the oil in a pot, add the lamb mince and cook until browned over a medium heat. Any excess fat from the mince can be drained at this point. Add the rice. Finally, add the salt, pepper and allspice. Cover the mix with water and simmer covered until the rice is cooked, stirring every few minutes. Once the lamb is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 15 minutes. In a serving dish, spread the rice flat on the dish and place the lamb leg on top.