This dish is familiar to curry aficionados everywhere, and yet relatively few have actually eaten it.
This is because it appears on many restaurant menus, often under a “House Specialities” or “Chef’s Specials” heading, but with the daunting proviso “Requires 24 hours notice and a deposit”, or similar.
For many, in the UK at least, advanced planning and up-front payment do not necessarily constitute part of what they expect from an encounter with Indian food, which is a shame, really, as this is a dish as interesting as it is delicious.
Raan, Indian roast leg of lamb, has its origins in the cuisine of the mighty Mogul Emperors, who, as Pat Chapman says in his superb book “The New Curry Bible“, with the fabulous wealth and resources at their disposal raised Indian cuisine to new, great heights, in exactly the same way that Louis XIV transformed French cuisine.
As with all roasts, this makes for a great Sunday Lunch, and, after a long afternoon autumnal walk along a sea front, is a truly splendid thing indeed.
Raan - Indian Roast Leg of Lamb
- 1.3 kg boned leg of lamb joint
- 250ml coconut cream
- finely chopped zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp extra-hot chilli powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp almond flour
- salt and pepper to taste
- Remove the lamb from the fridge to allow it to come up to room temperature. Wash and dry the lamb joint. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
- Make the marinade. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the coconut cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, cumin powder, cardamom powder, ground cloves, turmeric, extra-hot chilli powder, ground ginger, almond flour, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Lightly grease a baking tray large enough to hold the lamb. Place the lamb in the baking tray. Pour enough of the marinade over the lamb to generously cover it. Rub the marinade well in to the lamb. Set aside for at least 1 hour (see Notes).
- Place any leftover marinade into a small saucepan with enough water to make a thin sauce – the sauce will reduce as it cooks down. Place on a low simmer until the sauce has cooked out and reduced down. Remove from the heat, and set aside.
- Place a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the lamb. Set it to 70°C, which will give a nice, juicy roast, with a hint of pinkness to it. Place the lamb in the middle of the oven.
- When the lamb has reached 70°C, remove it from the oven. This should take about 1½ hours or so. Allow the lamb to rest for about 15 minutes before slicing.
- While the lamb is resting, add the juices from the roasting tray to the sauce you prepared earlier. Place it back on the heat, and return it to a simmer to reduce once more.
- Once it has rested, thinly slice the lamb. Serve, with the finished sauce and the vegetable of your choice.
We decided to cook this dish at fairly short notice, hence the short marinating time. With proper planning, you should really be aiming for at least 24 hours marinating time. The consensus seems to be that the maximum time for marinating should be around 60 hours or so.
This recipe is adapted from several others that use a leg of lamb still on the bone, with the skin and fat removed. Before marinating the lamb, these recipes call for pricking the lamb all over with a fork, and / or making several small, deep cuts with a sharp knife. This is, of course, in order to allow the marinade to penetrate fully into the meat.
None of the cooking guidelines we found suggested doing this for a boned out joint, so we didn’t. In future, we will give this technique a test, along with the increased marinating time, to see how it affects the final dish.
In the original, non-Paleo version, the marinade is based on a yoghurt mixture. Here I use coconut cream instead, but I really would like to try out a marinade based on a coconut milk yoghurt. Unfortunately, I can’t find it where I live, so it looks as though I’m going to have to invest in a yoghurt maker.