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Leg of Lamb: Middle Eastern Recipe
By Kitchen Queen   

Leg of Lamb

This delicately flavored leg of lamb roast is a simpler version of the traditional North African Mechoui popular in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria: slow cooked whole lamb, roasted either on a spit over a fire or in a pit in the ground.

This modern recipe is ready in a couple hours and is great when served with flavorful Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dipping sauces such as tzatziki, a Greek dip made from yogurt, chopped cucumber, and mint. You can serve the leg of lamb with vegetable pilaf or pita bread.

The leftovers are perfect for making gyro-style sandwiches the next day or simply enjoy it cold with a Greek salad that has lots of black olives and Feta!


  • Leg of lamb – 7-8 lbs, preferably boneless, rolled and tied
  • Fresh lemon juice – ½ cup
  • Coriander seeds – 2 tsp, coarsely cracked
  • Cardamom powder – 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  • Zatar (Middle Eastern spice mix) – 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon stick – 1 thin piece
  • Paprika – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric – 1 tsp
  • Zest from 2 lemons, finely julienned
  • Red chili powder (cayenne pepper) – ½ tsp
  • Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp
  • Olive oil – 2 tbsp
  • Apricots – 1 can
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Parsley for garnish


Blanch lemon zest and apricots (without syrup) for about 10 minutes. Add lemon juice and syrup from the apricots and stir for 2-3 minutes. On a dry griddle or frying pan, toast all the spices: coriander, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, turmeric, zatar and cayenne, stirring frequently until lightly browned and fragrant.

Leg of LambMake long gashes in the lamb and rub garlic paste all over. Next apply the toasted spices with a brush or use lemon peal and coat generously. Sprinkle salt and pepper and brush with the oil.

Brown both sides of the lamb in a heavy skillet on the stove for about 5 minutes per side.

Transfer to a baking pan and bake in the oven preheated to 375° Fahrenheit for 1 hour 15 minutes. Baste the lamb half way through with the apricot-lemon sauce until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the leg registers 140° Fahrenheit for medium-rare meat.

Remove from oven and cover the lamb with foil to finish cooking in its own heat for 15 minutes. Add remaining zest and apricot sauce to the pan juices and serve in a gravy boat alongside the lamb. Sprinkle fresh parsley and serve with dill pilaf.

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Serves: 6 - 8

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