What can I say about this aromatic spice-rubbed roast lamb Marrakesh style? It’s an exceedingly delicious recipe and a high recommendation for anyone who likes lamb! I can say for sure.
Just look at this slow-cooked beauty. A total of 11, yes count them, 11 different spices were used in this exotic rub. The aroma when cooking can only be described as the same as that wonderful fragrance found when walking through a Marrakesh Bazaar on a wonderful sunny day. The different aromas hitting the senses are mesmerizing and it was only strong self-control that stopped a knife cutting off a sliver to taste before to real cooking time was up!
But where did the idea come from, and I don’t mean Morroco…
Well, for those of you unaware, in the UK Sunday is a day when it is traditional to cook a family roast dinner. The standard 4 types of meat for roasting are various cuts of beef, chicken, lamb or pork. However, others are used like turkey for Christmas and Easter and game meats like venison and or pheasant depending on season and availability.
Personally, I love lamb, leg or shoulder, and it’s generally roasted for a good couple of hours or so and served with roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables. The main herbs used in the roasting are rosemary and thyme. Today, however, both Jen and I fancied something a little more exotic.
1. Finding the aroma of Marrakesh
Having quickly settled on a spice rub for the lamb the question was which spices? There was a short discussion and quick agreement that North Africa was the exotic spice capital of the world, and both having been to Morroco, it was decided to try and emulate the wonderful fragrances of the market street of Marrakesh. For any of you who have been to Morroco you will know what I mean, and for those of you who haven’t then you must add this to your bucket list. All foodies must experience the spice aroma of Marrakesh at least once in their lives.
There as nothing scientific about this quest. The spice cupboard was opened and all spices lined up. The process was one of elimination and after the standard items like dried rosemary and thyme, Chinese 5 spice and bay leaves were removed we were left with a pretty good selection of 11 must-haves.
2. Gather the spices together
The first thing to say is that even though 11 were used, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Morocco and spices. Please don’t be offended, therefore, if some of your favourites were left in the cupboard.
So what was chosen? There were the standards of good seas salt and black peppercorns. Then the three C seeds of cumin, coriander and cardamom. There would have a been sort of fourth C seed of a cinnamon stick but ground cinnamon was all that was found so that had to do. Fennel seeds and star anise were added for some aniseed flavour, and then there were cloves and paprika.
That made 10. Then, in the back of the cupboard, I found an unopened jar of allspice berries. To be honest, I didn’t know what these were and certainly didn’t remember buying them. A quick search found that allspice or pimenta is a dried seed generally from Mexico but used all around the world in anything from herbal drinks to soups to desserts and, especially, spicy stews in North Africa and the Middle East. It was as if it was meant to be…
Before the preparation of the spices is discussed it’s worth noting that the spice measurements are listed in the printable recipe below. However, note that I purposely made around 1/3 too much spice mix as I wanted to keep some and use it later with some spicy soup ideas that I have. You may want to do the same and make more to keep, but if not just scale down by about a third and that will be fine for this recipe.
3. Preparing the spices
The bottom line here is that all spices need to be ground to a powder and then mixed together. This can be done with a good old pestle and mortar, and some elbow grease. Otherwise, and my recommendation if you have a blender, is to add all the spices and blitz until the job is done.
With the spices ground it’s now time to prepare the lamb but first, put the oven on to heat at 180C 160C Fan.
4. Prepare the lamb
With regards to the lamb, the whole leg was used but a shoulder would have equally sufficed.
The first thing to do is to take the lamb joint and wash it. Pat the joint dry and then place on a flat surface. Score the top of the meant and make 8 incisions with a small knife. Stuff the garlic cloves deep into each hole.
Next, drizzle olive oil over the top of the lamb and rub in all over.
Using around half of the ground spice (assuming the measurements below were used) rub the spice mixture into the top and sides of the lamb until it is fully covered.
Note that I have cut the onion and lemon into segments and used these as a base for the lamb leg in the roasting tray. Just make sure any seeds are removed from the lemon.
With the lamb leg nicely propped up add 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture to the water and mix in. Now, pour this in the roasting tray to cover the base.
5. Roast the lamb Marrakesh style
To roast the lamb cover the roasting tray tightly with kitchen foil and place in the preheated oven. The meat should cook for 4 hours. However, keep checking the liquid level every hour or so. If it starts to boil dry just add a little more to keep the base from drying up. There should always be at least 2 cm of liquid in the base of the roasting tray.
After 4 hours remove the foil and increase the heat to 200C / 180C Fan and cook for a further 20-30 minutes to crisp the top up. Finally, remove from the oven and rest for 15 minutes or so.
6. Carve and serve the roast lamb Marrakesh style
With the lamb rested, simply carve the meat and douse in the spiced juices. Sprinkle some fresh chopped mint over and this wonderful aromatic lamb recipe is ready to eat. Serve with roast potatoes and steamed seasonal vegetables, if the Sunday Roast theme is to be kept, otherwise, rice or even couscous would work very well.
And that’s all there is to it spice fans. 11 great spices blended together to make a magical and mystical flavour explosion. This slow roast leg of lamb recipe is very tasty and absolutely delicious. Make loads and use the leftovers for another dish the next day. I’m going to mix North Africa with the Meditteranean and make a spiced lamb ragu to go with some pasta. More on that later… 😉
As always, many thanks for reading and until next time… Steve.
7. Nutritional values
8. Printable recipe
Aromatic spice-rubbed roast lamb Marrakesh style. 11 fragrant spices go into this scrummy recipe. The aroma of a Marrakesh Bazaar in your own kitchen. Yum! | theyumyumclub.com
- 1 whole leg of lamb, bone in
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 2 onions
- 4 large cloves of garlic
- For the spice rub
- 2 tbsp black peppercorns
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1.5 tbsp allspice berries
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 5 star anise
- 1.5 tbsp cardamom seeds
- 4 cloves
- 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 3 tbsp sea salt
- 12 fl oz water Metric - 360 ml water
- 1 handful chopped fresh mint
First, gather all of the spices together to make the rub.
If you have a blender then place all of the spices in the blender, If you do not have a blender then you will need to use a pestle and mortar.
Blender all of the spices together.
Now, wash the leg of lamb and remove any excess water.
Peel the garlic cloves and slice in half. If you only have small cloves then peel 8 but do not slice in half.
Lightly score the top of the leg of lamb and then make 8 random holes with a small knife and stuff one piece of garlic in each one.
Now, drizzle olive over the top of the leg of lamb and rub in all over.
Generously sprinkle the spice rub over the lamb and rub in all over. If you have time, leave this to marinade for a couple of hours although this is not necessary.
Preheat the oven to 180C / 160C Fan
Now, slice the onions and lemons into wedges, remove the seeds from the lemons, and place the lamb on top of the wedges in a large roasting tray.
Mix 2 tbsp of the spice rub into the water and then pour this around the lamb.
Cover the roasting try tightly with kitchen foil and place in the oven. Roast the lamb for 4 hours checking every now and then to make sure the liquid has not boiled dry. If it starts to then just add a little more water.
After 4 hours remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 200C /180C Fan and roast for 20-30 minutes until the skin crisps up a little.
Now, remove from the oven and rest for 15 minutes.
The delicious spicy lamb is now ready to serve. Either slice like a roast or pull away with forks like pulled pork. Whichever you fancy. Sprinkle with chopped fresh mint. We had it with roast potatoes and mixed steamed vegetables. However, this lamb can be served with rice or even couscous. Either way, it's yummy!!