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Twelve-hour spiced lamb shoulder with saffron pilaf

This dish goes to show that slow-cooked and steady wins the race.

By Emma Knowles
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 12 hrs cooking plus marinating, resting
  • Serves 6 - 8
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Twelve-hour Indian-spiced lamb shoulder with saffron pilaf
As the name indicates, this dish requires planning ahead. That said, the long cooking time is offset by simple preparation, with melt-in-the-mouth textures and deep flavours the pay-offs. Start this recipe two days ahead to marinate and roast the lamb.


  • 150 gm Greek-style yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground chilli
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 lamb shoulder, bone in (about 1.7kg)
  • 80 gm ghee
  • 4 onions, thinly sliced
  • Fresh coriander sprigs, mint leaves, thinly sliced long green chilli and lime wedges, to serve
Saffron pilaf
  • 50 ml vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 300 gm brown basmati rice
  • 500 ml hot chicken stock (2 cups)
  • ½ tsp saffron, soaked in 50ml warm water for 10 minutes
Mint yoghurt
  • 250 gm thick plain yoghurt
  • 1 cup mint (firmly packed)
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime


  • 1
    Combine yoghurt, ginger, garlic, spices and lime juice in a bowl and season to taste. Slash lamb at intervals, rub all over with yoghurt mixture and into the incisions, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to marinate.
  • 2
    Unwrap lamb, place in a roasting pan and bring to room temperature (1-1½ hours). Preheat oven to 120C. Meanwhile, heat ghee in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add onion and fry, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden brown (8-10 minutes). Season to taste, cool briefly, then scatter onion over lamb. Add 500ml water to roasting pan, cover with foil and roast until meat is fall-apart tender (11-12 hours). Pour pan juices into a jug, skim off excess fat and season to taste.
  • 3
    For saffron pilaf, heat ghee in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add onion and garlic and sauté until tender and translucent (5-6 minutes). Stir in rice to coat, then add stock, saffron and its soaking liquid and 250ml hot water. Season to taste, bring to the boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid, then reduce heat to low and cook without uncovering for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stand without uncovering for 5 minutes, then uncover and fluff up with a fork.
  • 4
    For mint yoghurt, process ingredients in a food processor and season to taste.
  • 5
    Pile pilaf onto a platter, top with lamb, scatter with coriander, mint and green chilli, and serve with pan juices, mint yoghurt and lime wedges.


Drink Suggestion: Spicy grenache Drink suggestion by Max Allen