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Tandoori Leg of Lamb
© James Baigrie

Tandoori Leg of Lamb

  • ACTIVE: 40 MIN
  • TOTAL TIME: 2 HRS 45 MIN plus 6 hr marinating
  • SERVINGS: 6 to 8

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.

  1. 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  2. Kosher salt
  3. One 6-pound bone-in leg of lamb
  4. 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  5. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  6. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  7. 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  8. 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  9. 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  10. 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  11. 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  12. 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  13. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  14. 1 teaspoon turmeric
  15. 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  16. 2 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced
  17. 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  18. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  19. 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.