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Tandoori Leg of Lamb

The tandoor oven is India's version of a grill. Here, Steven Raichlen follows the traditional method of tandoori marinating—a wash of lemon juice followed by a long bath in a yogurt-based marinade—using a tender, succulent leg of lamb. After grilling the lamb, Raichlen says, make sure it rests for at least 15 minutes before carving.

slideshow More Amazing Lamb Recipes

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6 to 8

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  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt
  • One 6-pound bone-in leg of lamb
  • 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. In a large roasting pan, mix 1/2 cup of the lemon juice with 2 teaspoons of salt. Place the lamb in the pan and coat well with the lemon juice. Let the lamb stand in the juice for 30 minutes, then drain.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the yogurt with the oil, garlic, ginger, dry mustard, cumin, nutmeg, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric and cayenne. Stir in 2 teaspoons of salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. With a small knife, make 1-inch-deep slits all over the lamb. Coat the lamb thoroughly with the marinade, pushing it into the slits. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  3. Light a charcoal grill. Remove the leg of lamb from the marinade, leaving on a thick layer. Move the hot coals to one side of the grill and place a drip pan opposite the coals. Set the lamb over the drip pan, cover the grill and cook until glazed and an instant-read thermometer registers 140° for medium, about 2 hours.
  4. Line a platter with the onions and sprinkle with the cilantro. Place the leg of lamb on top, brush it with the melted butter and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve the lamb into slices and serve with the lemon wedges.

Suggested Pairing

This lamb's tangy, gamey flavors will be complemented by a red wine that has rich fruit but also firm acidity, a balance more often found in Old World wines than New World ones. Southern France is a case in point.

Contributed By Photo © James Baigrie Published June 2007

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