Spiced slow-roast lamb with asparagus

Angela Nilsen gives roast lamb a special spicy flavour and slow-cooks it for a meltingly tender texture
By Angela Nilsen
Spiced slow-roast lamb with asparagus
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus 30 minutes marinating
  • Effort: easy


  • 2 carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 1.2 - 1.3 kg leg of lamb
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mixed peppercorns, coarsely ground
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 lemon, finely grated zest only
  • 1 tsp clear honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, flakes
  • 5 tbsp dry white wine
  • 300 ml hot lamb or chicken stock, from a cube is fine
  • 2 bunches asparagus, about 500g total weight, stem ends snapped off
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander

Tips and Suggestions

If you want to get ahead, you can coat the lamb in the spice mix a day ahead, then cover well and refrigerate overnight.


1. Drizzle a little olive oil in a small roasting tin. Lay the carrots in the middle so they form a platform for the lamb to sit on. Make long, diagonal slashes across the skin of the lamb.

2. Heat a small heavy, dry frying pan. Tip in the coriander and cumin seeds and toast them for about 1 minute, or slightly less, shaking the pan occasionally to move them around, just until they start to colour and smell fragrant. Using a pestle and mortar, grind the toasted spices together. Stir in the ground peppercorns, turmeric, paprika, lemon zest, honey, olive oil and sea salt. Rub a little of this spicy paste underneath the lamb, but rub most of it all over the top to form a crust. Sit the lamb on the carrots. Set aside for 30 minutes to marinate. Preheat the oven to 230C/fan 210C/gas 8.

3. Roast the lamb for 20 minutes to brown the top. Reduce the oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Remove the tin and put it on the hob on a medium heat. When its hot, pour in the wine, swirling it in the juices on the bottom of the pan to colour and flavour the liquid. Simmer very briefly, then stir in the hot stock. Remove. Cover the lamb loosely with a large piece of foil then secure the foil around the edges of the tin to seal. Roast the lamb for a further 31/2-33/4 hours by which time it should be very tender. Baste with the juices a couple of times during roasting. Remove the lamb and leave to rest, still covered with foil, for 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, raise the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Put the asparagus on a baking tray, toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then spread it out in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes until just tender, but still with a slight crunch. Pour the lamb juices from the roasting tin into a saucepan and spoon off as much of the fat as you can. Bring the juices to a boil, then boil quite fast for 4-5 minutes to concentrate the flavours and reduce slightly. It should still be fairly runny, like a jus. Remove, stir in the fresh coriander and serve with the lamb and asparagus.

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