Spiced Leg of Lamb

Reem Kassis’ mother, Nisreen, would serve leg of lamb to guests because it was “a sign of utmost respect.” Large cuts of meat were expensive and often reserved for special occasions and celebratory gatherings. Kassis’ secret to making this next-level lamb is to roast it low and slow for several hours until the meat is nearly falling apart and then finish it at a higher temperature until the fat on the outside is candy-crisp.

Spiced Leg of Lamb over Hashweh
Photo: Greg DuPree
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
11 hrs


  • 8 large garlic cloves, divided

  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 2 teaspoons ground dill seeds

  • 2 teaspoons sumac

  • 1 teaspoon Nine-Spice Mix

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 (4 1/2- to 5 1/2-pound) bone-in leg of lamb (shank end)

  • 3 fresh bay leaves

  • 1/2 cup water, plus more as needed


  1. Mince 4 of the garlic cloves. In a small bowl, whisk minced garlic, pomegranate molasses, olive oil, salt, coriander, cumin, dill, sumac, Nine-Spice Mix, and cayenne until a smooth paste forms.

  2. Using a paring knife, cut slits all over lamb. Rub spice mixture over lamb, pressing into slits. Smash remaining 4 garlic cloves. Tuck bay leaves and smashed garlic into 4 of the slits. Transfer lamb to a wire rack set in a large roasting pan. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 6 hours or up to overnight. Let lamb stand at room temperature 1 hour before roasting.

  3. Preheat oven to 425°F. Roast lamb, uncovered, in preheated oven until spice mixture just begins to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove lamb from the oven, and reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Add 1/2 cup water to roasting pan, and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Return lamb to oven, and roast at 325°F until tender and almost falling apart, about 3 hours, adding more water if necessary. (Water in pan may evaporate too quickly.)

  4. Increase oven temperature to 425°F. (Do not remove pan from oven.) Uncover roasting pan, and continue to roast until top is browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer lamb to a cutting board; tent with foil, and let rest 15 minutes. Pull meat into large chunks and serve.

Suggested Pairing

Spicy, cool-climate Syrah.

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