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Slow-cooked Spiced Lamb Shoulder

by Rosie Birkett from The Joyful Home Cook (Harper Collins)

Photography: Helen Cathcart

This is ideal for feeding a crowd. The lamb shoulder is coated in a fragrant roasted spice oil with fresh chillies and curry leaves and cooked gently for hours until it just falls off the bone. Serve it with its insanely flavourful roasting oil spooned over and sweet, pink pickled onions to cut through the richness. It’s fantastic with my Coconut Milk and Turmeric Potato Gratin on page 168 as an alternative to a classic British Sunday roast. Seek out tender salt marsh lamb for this recipe, if you can.

Serves 4–6


Lamb shoulder (about 1.5kg), ideally on the bone

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp brown sugar

100g coconut oil

2 tsp black mustard seeds

4 tsp dried curry leaves (or

2 tsp fresh curry leaves)

6 green cardamom pods, bashed

3 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1½ tbsp Roasted Curry Powder (below) or Korma curry powder

50ml rapeseed oil

6 garlic cloves, peeled

3 red chillies, split in half lengthways

Grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

1-cm piece of root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

For the roasted curry powder (makes about 130g)

20g basmati rice

40g coriander seeds

30g cumin seeds

20g black peppercorns

10g fenugreek seeds

1 heaped tsp cloves

Seeds from 1 tsp green cardamom pods

For the pickled red onion

1 red onion, thinly sliced juice of 2 limes

1 tsp salt

2 tsp caster sugar


1. First, make the roasted curry powder. Heat a dry frying pan over medium heat. Add the rice and toast it, stirring, until it’s starting to brown, then add all the other spices and toast for 3-5 minutes, until darkish brown but not burned. Transfer the spices to a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and blitz or grind to a powder, then pass through a sieve, Store in a sealed jar. It will keep well for a few months, but is best used fresh.

2. Trim any excess hard fat from the shoulder, stab it all over with a knife then rub it with the salt and sugar. If there’s time, leave to sit overnight in the fridge, or for at least an hour, removing it from the fridge an hour before you want to cook it.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil in a frying pan over a high head. Add the mustard seeds and once they are crackling, add the curry leaves and cardamon pods. Cook until sizzling, then remove from the heat, allow to cool for a minute or two then stir in chilli powder and curry powder and remaining oils. Leave to cool completely.

4. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Wipe any moisture from the lamb with kitchen paper. Put the lamb in a roasting tray and coat it in the curry oil, then spoon or pour over the rest of the oil. Top with the garlic, chillies, lemon zest and ginger. Cover with foil and roast for 4-4 ½ hours, basting every hour or so, until the meat comes away from the bones easily and is pull-apart tender.

5. While it’s roasting, pickle the onion. Put the slices onion in a heatproof bowl, just cover with boiling water and let it sit for 15 minutes. Drain off the water, whisk the lime juice with the salt and sugar and pour it over the onion. Leave to steep while the lamb cooks.

6. When the lamb is done, remove it from the oven and leave it to rest, covered loosely with foil, for at least 30 minutes. Drain the excess confit fat from the tray into a bowl. Pull the meat off the bones, discard the bones and toss the meat in the residual flavoured oil and any tasty crusty bits that have formed on the bottom of the roasting tray.

7. Serve the lamb with the pink pickled onions spooned over, with crunchy red cabbage and carrot slaw and the coconut milk gratin.

Red Cabbage and Carrot Slaw

This bright, crunchy slaw is wonderfully fresh and zippy, a perfect accompaniment to rich meat dishes.

Serves 4-6 as a side


½ red cabbage, finely shredded

1 carrot, cut into fine matchsticks or peeled with a julienne peeler

2 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp caster sugar

1 red jalapeño chilli, thinly sliced or 1 tbsp pickled green chillies

Juice of 1 lime

Handful of mint, leaves picked

Handful of coriander, leaves picked

Handful of dry-roasted peanuts, chopped


1. Combine the cabbage, carrot, spring onions, salt and sugar in a bowl and give everything a good scrunch together with your hands to incorporate.

2. Leave to sit for 5 minutes, then add in the chilli. Dress with the lime juice and toss through the herbs and peanuts.

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