In Palestine, festive occasions center round a great family meal. Although what is cooked varies from family to family, offering lamb remains a sign of utmost respect and at Christmas time it reflects the spiritual element of this unique time of year.

A few weeks ago, I picked up Reem Kassis’ beautiful new cookbook, The Palestinian Table and I could not wait to explore it. I found her leg of lamb recipe most unique for using pomegranate molasses and strong aromatic spices in her marinade. I prepared it for a Christmas dinner I was hosting and it was a big hit. Reem explains in her book that there are many ways to spice the lamb but the key is to cook it on low heat and slow roast it for several hours to seal in the natural juices and essence.

Preparation time

  • 10 minutes + marinating                                       

Cooking time

  • 3.5 hours

Serves

  •  6-8 pax

Ingredients

  • 2-2.5kg Lamb leg
  • 3 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. coriander
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground dill seeds
  • 2 tsp. sumac
  • 4 large garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tsp. nine spice mix
  • ½ tsp. red chili powder
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 2-3 bay leaves

Method

  • Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, except for the bay leaves. Combine to make the marinade.
  • Using a sharp knife, make deep incisions all over the lamb to help the meat absorb the marinade.
  • With your hands rub the marinade all over the lamb. Allow to sit for at least one hour or overnight in the fridge.
  • Preheat oven to 425F / 220C.
  • Use a large roasting pan, skin side up and place in the oven for 15 minutes.
  • Remove lamb from the oven and reduce the heat to 325F / 160C
  • Pour ½ cup of water into the roasting tin and seal well with aluminum foil, returning to the oven for about 3 hours.
  • Check it half way, to add more water if necessary.
  • After 3 hours, increase the heat to 425F / 220C, and roast for 5-10 minutes to get the top crispy.
  • Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.