Slow-cooked shoulder of lamb

LEVEL: Advanced



½ onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
½ bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
20g root ginger, chopped
¼ tsp cumin
½ tsp ras-el-hanout
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp Lebanese seven-spice mix
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper
½ tsp black pepper
50ml vegetable oil
2-2.5kg shoulder of lamb, bone in

25ml vegetable oil
25g butter
½ red onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4-5 sprigs of thyme
2 tbsp tomato purée
400g tin chopped tomatoes
small handful of coriander, chopped small handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

4 each dried apricots, dried figs, dates and prunes
handful of golden raisins
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise
1 tsp rose water
2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ onion, finely chopped
150g lamb mince
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper good pinch of Lebanese seven-spice mix
1 tsp ras-el-hanout
200g basmati rice
25g toasted mixed nuts handful of fresh mint leaves

Greek yoghurt harissa
toasted sesame seeds


We’ve been serving this in our restaurant for more than 18 years now and it’s so good, so popular, that I don’t think we’ll ever take it off the menu.

In our culture we don’t serve our meat pink or medium; it’s always well done. So in this recipe the joint is cooked until crispy on the outside, moist on the inside and soft enough to be shredded with a fork.

This recipe really sums up what this book is all about – layers of flavour in one huge feast of a dish, brought to the table accompanied by a wonderful array of sides to complement it (see photo on pages 122-3).

Up to two days before you serve the lamb, marinate the shoulder. Put the onion, garlic, coriander, root ginger, spices, salt, peppers and oil into a mini blender and whizz to make a paste. Put the shoulder into a large sealable container and rub the paste all over it. Cover and chill for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours.

Take the lamb out of the fridge so that it comes up to room temperature – if it’s too cold, it will take longer to cook. When you’re ready to cook it, preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7.

Put the lamb in a roasting tin and roast in the oven for 20 minutes until it has coloured on all sides.

While the lamb is cooking in this short blast of heat, make the sauce.

Heat the oil and butter in a medium saucepan and sauté the onion, carrot and garlic for 10 minutes over a medium heat until starting to soften and turn golden. Stir in the thyme sprigs, tomato purée and the tin of tomatoes, then fill the tin with hot water twice (making about 800ml of water in total) and pour that into the pan, too. Stir in the coriander and parsley, and bring to the boil. Simmer, half covered with a lid, for 15 minutes. Blend until smooth using a hand blender.

When the lamb has cooked for 20 minutes, take it out of the oven and pour the sauce over it. Cover the tin tightly with foil, reduce the temperature to 170°C/150°C fan/gas mark 3 and return the lamb to the oven. Cook for about 3 hours until very tender. After each hour, remove the tin to check the meat and pour in 500ml boiling water, stirring it into the sauce. Turn the shoulder over, and spoon the sauce all over it. You’ll know it’s ready when you can push your finger through the side of the shoulder easily because the lamb has become very tender.

The next step is to prepare the fruit to go on top of this dish. Put all the dried fruit into a small saucepan, add the cinnamon, star anise, rose water and honey and enough cold water to just cover the fruit. Cover the pan with a lid and bring to a simmer. Simmer for

10-15 minutes to allow the fruit to plump up. Set aside to cool.

About 45 minutes before the lamb will be ready, cook the rice. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the onion for 5-8 minutes.

Add the lamb mince, breaking it down with a spoon so it browns evenly, then stir in the spices and seasoning. Cook for about 1 minute, then stir in the rice. Once the rice is coated with oil and mixed into the spiced onion and lamb mixture, cover with 500ml boiling water.

Put a lid on the pan, bring the liquid to the boil, then turn the heat down low and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Turn off the heat under the pan and set aside.

When the lamb is ready, take the roasting tin out of the oven and strain off the sauce. Keep it warm.

Take a large platter and spoon the rice all the way round the edge.

Lift the lamb into the middle. Arrange the dried fruit around it, then scatter the nuts and mint over the top. Serve with the warm sauce, yoghurt, harissa and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.