Syrian Style Roast Leg of Lamb

I was very lucky to have been given some fabulous cookbooks by my best buddy Ria. Ah she knows me so well! One is titled Almond Bar, written by Sharon Salloum, co-owner and chef of Almond Bar restaurant in Sydney, who was bought up in a traditional Syrian household. Ooh I’d love to go and eat there! Her recipes are based on family traditions, but adapted for the modern kitchen.

Syrian Lamb

As soon as I saw her recipe for roast leg of lamb, I knew I would make it for New Year’s Eve. We had family visiting from Spain and were going to have a fairly typical Spanish Family Celebration meal – masses of seafood and shellfish to start, lamb for main course, flan (or crème caramel to us!), fruit, Spanish biscuits, turrón and 12 grapes at midnight. The lamb was not typically Spanish because of the spices, but it was a big hit with everyone. The meat is cooked on high to start with then slowly cooked to tender perfection. Don’t wait until next New Year’s Eve to try this, I know I won’t be waiting that long!

(Apologies for the photo, it’s a cropped section of a family snap which also featured the lamb…)

Serves 8-10 (but you can scale it down for a smaller leg of lamb)

  • 2.5kg leg of lamb, bone in
  • 60ml olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 8 cloves crushed with a pestle and mortar
  • 3 teaspoons salt flakes
  • 6 cloves of sliced garlic
  • About 10 small sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 glass of white wine (not in the original recipe)

Preheat the oven to 200C (fan)/425F/Gas 7

Mix the oil with the spices, salt and pepper in a bowl. Rub the mix all over the leg of lamb then cut small incisions all over the lamb with a sharp pointed knife. Push the garlic and rosemary sprigs into the incisions.

Place the lamb in a deep oven dish and bake on high for an hour, turning after 30 minutes to brown on both sides. Pour the wine over the meat, cover the dish with foil to make a tent and reduce the oven temperature to 170C (fan)/375F/Gas 5 and return to the oven. Cook for another 2 ½ – 3 hours, basting every 20 minutes (but don’t stress if you do it a little less).

When the lamb is cooked, remove from the oven, keep it warm (I wrap it in foil and a couple of towels) and leave to rest for 15-30 minutes and serve with all the beautiful juices you will have left in the pan.


56 thoughts on “Syrian Style Roast Leg of Lamb

  1. That sounds delicious! Someone gave me some sumac for Christmas, which I’ve yet to play with – I bet there are a few recipes using it, in that book.
    Happy New Year to you and Big Man 🙂

  2. Just reading the spice list made me hungry!
    This must have smelled and tasted heavenly.
    I love it when friends get me cookbooks or beautiful unique old plates. My husband always rolls his eyes when I get excited about a plate or cup lol but I know you understand

  3. I love that last paragraph! I’m going to deck mine out in a scarf and mittens to rest 🙂 Well, I would if I ever cooked it! I’m never sure what to do with meat while it rests but a pillow and a cosy blanket seems a good plan 🙂

  4. Rene’s mother was Syrian , so in his house-hold they use a lot this kind of cuisine!
    Thanks for this recipe , unknown to me , I’ll show them ASAP !
    Happy new year , once more!

  5. I recently fell in love with roast leg of lamb, after trying it at my friend’s house for Christmas. Yours look delicious! Will suggest to my friend so that we can make it together next time (:

    1. Oh do give it a go – I think lamb is my favourite red meat and this dish keeps the wonderful flavour of the lamb whilst adding some beautiful spices and flavours.

  6. Tummy rumbles aplenty with that description. I can almost smell it – but that may be wishful thinking!
    I love the idea of 12 grapes at midnight. Presumably some sort of Spanish tradition?

    1. Yes, the grapes are a Spanish tradition (and we got to celebrate midnight twice, once at 11pm which was Spanish midnight) then again at UK midnight! You eat one grape (they now sell in Spain very small, peeled unseeded grapes to make choking less likely) on each “bong” – one for each month full of luck J

  7. I love lamb, and I think the picture looks very acceptable.
    Did you do anything special yesterday? Lynn x x

    1. HI Lynn and thanks for the card! Yes, we went with M to my parents and raised a glass or two – I think we’ve celebrated Reyes more times in England now than in Spain 😉

  8. Looks seriously delish Ms Chica. If I was a meat muncher, I would be on this like a tick on a dog, but alas, I am not. I don’t think that slathering a mound of tofu with this unctuous mix is going to work as well as it does on this lamb. I might just leave this one to you meat eaters to enjoy 😉

  9. As a Syrian, I’m really happy to have bumped into this delicious looking roast! 😉 Finally, I can make a lamb roast I can call ‘from home’ – something I haven’t done ever!

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