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Lamb shawarma

A big cut that will satisfy a crowd every time.

By Brigitte Hafner
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 4 hrs 40 mins cooking plus marinating
  • Serves 6
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"I love a slow-roasted shoulder of lamb, cooked until the meat is falling off the bone," says Brigitte Hafner. "The shoulder has more fat than the leg so I like to cook it until it's well-done and the fat's rendered out, which moistens the meat. Always rest it covered and in a warm place to allow the meat to relax.
"I like this lamb flaked into large pieces with a sprinkle of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of the fatty juices from the pan. Serve it with flatbread and a crisp salad – something with a bit of acid to contrast the rich meat, like orange, shaved fennel, rocket, sumac and red onion."


  • 1 lamb shoulder (about 2kg), bone in
  • Lemon halves, for squeezing
  • Salad of orange segments, fennel, rocket, sumac and red onion, dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, to serve
  • Toasted flatbread, to serve
Spice paste
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • Seeds from 6 cardamon pods, husk discarded
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) coriander, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
Garlic yoghurt
  • 220 gm Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Juice of ½ lemon, or to taste


  • 1
    For spice paste, dry-roast whole spices in a frying pan until fragrant (30-40 seconds). Cool, then finely grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Stir in paprika, coriander and garlic, then stir in enough oil to loosen and form an easily spreadable paste.
  • 2
    Place lamb in a non-reactive container (see note), rub paste all over lamb and refrigerate to marinate (4-6 hours or overnight).
  • 3
    Preheat oven to 160°C. Season lamb with salt and place in a roasting pan with 1.5cm water. Cover with a layer of baking paper, seal tightly with foil, then braise in oven until lamb is very tender (3½-4 hours; it should feel soft to the touch through the foil). Remove foil, increase heat to 180°C and roast until lamb is golden brown (25-35 minutes). Remove from oven and loosely re-cover with foil to rest (20-30 minutes).
  • 4
    For garlic yoghurt, combine yoghurt and garlic in a bowl, season to taste with lemon juice, and refrigerate until required.
  • 5
    Squeeze lemon over lamb, top with pan juices, season with salt flakes and serve with salad, garlic yoghurt and flatbread.


Non-reactive containers are made from glass, ceramic or plastic. Use them in preference to metal bowls when marinating to prevent the acid in marinades from reacting with metal and imparting a metallic taste.
Drink suggestion: Spicy young syrah. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.

  • undefined: Brigitte Hafner